Sea Sessions

It’s Sea Sessions weekend this weekend with the annual music and surf festival running from Friday June 29th to Sunday July 1st. This is a festival that continues to grow year on year. There are five different music areas this year – the main stage, the North Shore Stage, The Red Bull Electric Ballroom, Surfers Village and the Red Bull Bar.

It’s Sea Sessions weekend this weekend with the annual music and surf festival running from Friday June 29th to Sunday July 1st. This is a festival that continues to grow year on year. There are five different music areas this year – the main stage, the North Shore Stage, The Red Bull Electric Ballroom, Surfers Village and the Red Bull Bar.

The main stage is where the more recognisable names are at – Kaiser Chiefs headline on Friday, Rev Run of Run DMC fame and The Coronas are there on Saturday while Sunday features the likes of Happy Mondays and Kenny Dope, Ham Sandwich and Beardyman.

The other arenas are not to be sniffed at either with the likes of Jape, The Hot 8 Brass Band Relish and Delorentos lurking around the shore.

It’s all pretty good value too. With a day ticket costing €50 and a weekend ticket €88.50, Sea Sessions has to be one of the best value for money festivals around. Let’s just hope the weather holds.

North Atlantic Fiddle Convention

The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2012 – the Olympics of the Fiddle World – is also on this weekend. Well, to be specific, it started last Tuesday and runs until Sunday July 1st. It’s the first time it’s been held in Ireland and, while Derry City is the centre of the convention and the base for the conference, there’s also an abundance of great events taking place in County Donegal.

There’s The Chieftains at The Plaza in Buncrana on Sunday night (July 1st) and Women Of The Fiddle at An Grianan tomorrow, Friday June 29th. Sounding especially interesting is Strathspey Stories, a unique narrated concert exploring the musical links between Donegal, Scotland, and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, which takes place at the Highlands Hotel, Glenties on Saturday June 30th as part of the Donegal Fiddle Day.

There’s also the Festival Club hosted by Four Men & A Dog at Culturlann Ui Chanain on Great James St in Derry from tonight (Thursday) til Saturday beginning at 10pm nightly.

In addition, there are conferences, workshops, masterclasses and much, much more. Log on to for the full list of events and to download the complete programme.

Earagail 2012 At The Balor

It’s a mere nine days to the start of this year’s Earagail Arts festival. I’ll be doing my day by day guide thing to the first week of the festival next week, so I might as well take this opportunity to give a quick run down of the Earagail events that are taking place at the Balor in July.

Donegal’s own aerial dance company Fidget Feet kick off our festival programme with Catch Me! - their reworking of the Red Riding Hood tale with an aerial circus spin featuring an original score, visual projections and over 250 metres of rope. There are two shows - Sunday 9th at 8.30pm and Monday 10th at 3.00pm. There’ll be a free aerial dance workshop / Q & A session aimed at children after the Monday matinee.

On Wednesday July 11th, the first of two music gigs that I’m really looking forward to takes to the stage, as Donal Lunny joins Yungchen Lhamo for a collaboration of Irish and Tibetan musical genius.

Donal Lunny is an Irish music legend. A founding member of several seminal bands including Planxty, The Bothy Band and Moving Hearts he is considered one of the most influential people in the ‘70’s renaissance of Irish music. Yungchen Lhamo is the worlds leading Tibetan vocalist, described as ‘sublime’ by Rolling Stone and ‘Angel voiced’ by Newsweek. She recently sang at the Electric Burma concert in Dublin to honour Burmese pro Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. I have a gut feeling that this gig is going to be something special.

Friday 13th is the Tucan Brass String Ensemble. Tucan started off as a guitar duo a la Rodrigo Y Gabrielle but their Brass String Ensemble incarnation features up to eight musicians, including the likes of trumpeters Donagh Molloy (Lisa Hannigan Band) and Bryan Quinn (David Kitt Band), Austro-Irish violin sensation Claudia Schwab and the ska-lactical Derry based trombone player Donal McGuinness, playing everything from Daft Punk to Metallica.

We’ve joined forces with The Villa Rose Hotel (We book the act, they cook the food) to give you Ted & Co. The Dinner Show - a unique and interactive comedy dining experience direct from its hugely successful sold out run at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Enjoy a sumptuous three course meal with an extra portion of comedy served to you by the characters from Fr. Ted as Ted, Dougal, Fr. Jack and Mrs Doyle bring you a first-hand experience of the comical mishaps, mayhem and misadventures that seem to follow them wherever they go. Enjoy a fantastic night of satire, surrealism and good old-fashioned comedy. That’s on over two nights – Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th July.

There’s also children’s theatre with Hullaba Lulu from acclaimed UK puppet company Thingamujig (Thursday July 12th at 2pm and 4pm) and, last but not least, Fishamble The New Play company present The Wheelchair On My Face (Friday July 20th). Fishamble are arguably the best and most exciting producers of new theatre in Ireland today. Their previous Balor performances of Forgotten (July ’11) and Silent (Oct ’11) were two of the very best shows we’ve seen in recent years. The Wheelchair On My Face promises to maintain these incredibly high standards.

Starring Sonya Kelly from The Savage Eye, it’s part memoir, part theatre and part stand-up comedy. Sonya tells the often hilarious story of a short-sighted 7-year-old getting her first pair of glasses. She realises that the world is more than a swirl of moving coloured blobs, that the people she’d been apologising for bumping into were really lamp posts and that she had been feeding bread to crisp packets in her local park.

It’s as quality and diverse a line-up as we’ve had for any of the nine Earagail festivals I’ve been around for and I’m really looking forward to it. Full details on all the above is at and

The Feast Of The Senses

For the second year running, the Earagail Arts Festival kicks off with the festival’s Feast Of The Senses - a unique night of cabaret and cuisine. The Feast will once again be hold in the Festival Marquee which has moved this year to a new location in Rockhill. It’s a little bit more out of the way than last years Letterkenny Town Park location but this has it’s own ‘getting away from it all feeling’ advantages.

,It’s a 3 course supper - food courtesy of Rathmullan House with the one man whirling dervish theatre company that is Little John Nee as your host and Maitre D’. As well as the food there’s entertainment in the form of Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson, an Australian duo who play amped up old time blues with a Celtic twist. There’s also American country rockers I See Hawks In LA who, over the past 11 years, have built themselves quite the reputation as live acoustic performers.

,The Earagail Arts Festival Feast Of The Senses takes place on Saturday July 8th at Rockhill House, Letterkenny at 8.00pm. Tickets are €35 each which includes a 3 course supper. You can get tickets online at or via the festival box office at An Grianan Theatre on 074 912 0777.

Sounds Like Summer Final

The third and fourth heats of The Alley, Strabane’s Sounds Like Summer music competition wrapped up last weekend with Gerard i.2 emerging triumphant on Friday and The Heads Of State winning Heat 4 on Saturday. They’ll join previous heats winners Justin Black and Paul Tully for the Sounds Like Summer grand final which is on tomorrow (Friday 29th) at The Alley.

Admission to the final is only a fiver. The overall standard of the four heats has been remarkably high and this are best of the entrants so it’s well worth the money.