Arts Column with Conor Malone

Arts Column with Conor Malone
This Weeks Highlights: First off, tonight’s scheduled An Evening with Doris Dae and Gordon MacRae at The Playhouse, Derry is cancelled due to artist illness. Refunds are available thorugh The Playhouse box office. On a more positive note, hit musical Avenue Q opens a three night run at The Millennium Forum tonight and continues to Sunday while popular local singer-songwriter Patricia Morris is in The Alley in Strabane.

This Weeks Highlights: First off, tonight’s scheduled An Evening with Doris Dae and Gordon MacRae at The Playhouse, Derry is cancelled due to artist illness. Refunds are available thorugh The Playhouse box office. On a more positive note, hit musical Avenue Q opens a three night run at The Millennium Forum tonight and continues to Sunday while popular local singer-songwriter Patricia Morris is in The Alley in Strabane.

Staying with The Alley, former Hot House Flowers frontman Liam O Maonlaigh plays the Strabane venue on Saturday night. Earlier on Saturday at 2.30pm there’s family fun with a stage adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a show with you can also see at The Alley on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th of May. Later on, Mark Black & The Trips play the Greenroom at Voodoo in Letterkenny.

There’s a nice gig on Sunday night (May 25th) at An Grianan with much feted duo Winter Mountain doing the opening honours for Cara Dillon. Unspoken Love, a theatre of Witness performance addressing the topic of mixed marriage, is at The Playhouse, Derry on Tuesday 27th and another excellent gig to end the week with is Texas Artist of the Year Amanda Shires at The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey.

Cara Dillon

One of Ireland’s great singers, Cara Dillon, makes a welcome return to An Grianan, Letterkenny this Sunday evening. It’s been a while since the Dungiven vocalist last played around these parts but her distinctive musical identity and captivating vocals ensure that she still enjoys a large and loyal fanbase.

She’ll be performing songs from her new album A Thousand Hearts as well as songs from her extensive back catalogue.

Almost as eagerly anticipated will be the opening act Winter Mountain. The Inishowen/Cornwall duo have been building up quite a reputation for themselves in the last 12 months or so supporting the likes of Seth Lakeman on his UK tour and releasing their debut album also entitled ‘Winter Mountain’. There’s quite a buzz about this duo so, if you’re going on Sunday evening, don’t do the old stay in the bar and have a beer while the opening act is on thing. If you do you’ll regret it.

Cara Dillon with support from Winter Mountain is at An Grianan, Letterkenny this Sunday May 25th at 8pm. Tickets are €20 (€15 concession) available from An Grianan on 074 912 0777 or online at www.angrianan.com

Paperboys Doing The Rounds

A tune I’m loving on youtube at the moment is The Paperboys’ version of All Along The Watchtower live at University Village in Seattle. It’s a wonderful folky take on the Hendrix classic. The intro starts off with just the rhythm guitar chords, then there’s a flute and fiddle jig played over it before launching into the song itself proper. In the middle, there’s a wonderful bluesy trombone solo followed by a killer sax solo, all leading to a killer percussion-driven ending. Talk about taking a song and putting your own stamp on it. Check it out on youtube for yourself: Choose the black and white clip. It’s about ten minutes long – skip the first minute, it’s just chatter – but it’s worth it.

The Paperboys are a near legendary Canadian folk band who have been on the go since 1991. They’re one of these bands that is very hard to pigeonhole: there’s obviously strong Bluegrass, Old Time and Celtic influences but they’re anything but traditional. There’s also healthy servings of Ska and Reggae and strains of Soul, Pop and Funk. One of the best descriptions I’ve heard of them is “Guinness with a tequila chaser while listening to an Americana jukebox.” That just about covers it.

They’re quite likely the best multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-lingual, genre bending band you’re likely to hear this year.

The Paperboys play The Balor next Thursday May 29th at 8.30pm. Tickets are €15 and are available from The Balor on 074 913m1840 or online at www.balorartscentre.com

Amanda Shires

Also playing at The Balor next week is former Texas artist of the year Amanda Shires. Amanda won the award in 2011 for her critically acclaimed breakthrough album ‘Carrying Lightning’ which announced her arrival as one of America’s most arresting new voices.

Amanda is anything but a newcomer to the music scene. She picked up her first violin aged 10 and spent her teens playing Western swing with the legendary Texas Playboys. She’s married to Jason Isbell (formerly of the cult alt country band Drive By Truckers) and her latest album 2013’s ‘Down Fell The Doves’ featured in many industry ‘Best Of’ lists. She’s a supremely talented artist: her supernaturally expressive violin, ukulele and quivering vibrato allied with a Tom Waits like poetic insight and femme-fatale conviction makes her an artist it’s impossible to ignore.

Amanda Shires is at The Balor next Wednesday May 28th at 8.30pm. Tickets are €12.50 available from The Balor – 074 913 1840 or www.balorartscentre.com

The Jungle Book

There’s a lovely looking childrens’ show this Saturday at 2.30pm at An Grianan, Letterkenny. Riverbank Productions present a lively musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic Jungle Book.

Aimed specifically at children aged 4 to 9, this production incorporates actors, puppets and brand new songs with catchy music composed specifically with children in mind to bring the classic tale to life. All your favourite Jungle Book characters are there – from Mowgli and Baloo the bear to Bagheera the Panther, Kaa the sinister snake and the mighty tiger Shere Khan.

The Jungle Book is at An Grianan, Letterkenny this Saturday May 24th at 2.30pm. Tickets are just €5 available from An Grianan on 074 912 0777 or online at www.angrianan.com. If that doesn’t suit you, you can also catch it at The Alley in Strabane on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th.