The Arts in Donegal with Conor Malone

Ramelton to become a European hot spot for gypsy jazz this weekend

Conor Malone


Conor Malone

The Arts in Donegal with Conor Malone

The Ragdolls who play The Balor in Ballybofey next week.

Ramelton will become a European hotspot for gypsy jazz this weekend as the town as it plays host to the first ‘Django Sur Lennon’ festival.

It’s a pretty cool name – the ‘Django’ of the title refers to Django Reinhardt – one of the world’s greatest ever guitar players and a man whose name is indelibly associated with the Gypsy Jazz genre while Lennon is the name of the river that flow through Ramelton. So ‘Gypsy Jazz on the Lennon’ (although that doesn’t sound half as exotic).

A host of international stars are scheduled to appear over the course of the three day festival including Romane from Paris, London based Kourosh Kanani and Italian guitarist Dario Napoli.

There’ll be five concerts in all as well as a host of gigs and sessions in local pubs. The festival opened in Conway’s bar last night, (Thursday October 27th), with music by local gypsy jazz outfit La Pompe. Friday brings the ‘Welcome To Town’ session in Conway’s at 6pm with Romane playing the first festival concert in Ramelton Town Hall at 8pm.

There are three concerts on Saturday –Kourosh Kanani and guests play a 2pm acoustic gig at a ‘mystery location’ while Irene Ypenburg (Amsterdam) and Manouche (Belfast) are in the Town Hall at 5.30pm followed by Dario Napoli in the same venue at 9pm. The Town Hall also hosts the closing concert on Sunday at 2.30pm.

Other performers playing in the bars of Ramelton over the weekend include the acclaimed Tolka Hot Club, the Boris Hunka Trio from Limerick, and well-known gypsy jazz players from Dublin and Galway. There’s also bound to be some fantastic ad-hoc acoustic sessions in pubs with the festival expected to attract some of the island's leading exponents of the genre.

Given that it’s the first year of the festival the calibre of the artists it’s been able to attract is quite stunning and the organisers are quick to thank their sponsors including Sir Gerry Robinson of Oakfield House in Raphoe, barrister Peter Nolan and accountant Fintan Moloney.

Advance tickets for individual events are available from the box office at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny (0749120777). You can also buy a weekend ticket that will cover all five concerts and of course you always have the option of paying on the door (as long as it isn’t sold out). There’s also a festival website with all the latest information –


The Ragdolls

Fancy the sound of an 8 piece band recreating all the hits and classics of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons? If you do look no further than The Ragdolls who play The Balor in Ballybofey next week.

This show is nothing less than a celebration of the music of Frankie Valli as the band take you on a musical journey through the sounds of one of the most successful bands of all time, recreating the iconic sounds of The Four Seasons through classic songs such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Oh What A Night’ and many more.

There’s a distinctly different feel to the pre-interval and post-interval sections of the show. In the first part (I dislike saying first half – it makes it sound like a football match) the boys take you back to where it all began. Slick choreography and the recognisable falsetto set the scene for renditions of Four Season’s ‘50’s classics such as Still Of The Night, Oh carol, Teenager in Love and Why Do The Fools Fall In Love.

After the interval it’s party time with all the famous hits coming out. Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, Let’s Hang On, Ragdoll, Working My Way Bank To You, Grease and many more will satisfy even the most ardent fan.

The Ragdolls are at The Balor, Ballybofey on Thursday next November 3rd at 8pm. Tickets priced €20 are available from The Balor Box Office on 0749131840 or online at


‘RANTing’ at the RCC

Bethany Reid, Jenna Reid, Sarah-Jane Summers and Lauren MacColl are four of Scotland’s finest fiddle players. Collectively they form a quartet known as RANT.

What’s unusual about this quartet is that it consists of 4 fiddles. There’s no other instruments – no cello or double bass to give harmony or depth to the tone. It works though with the interplay of the four fiddles creating a rich and vibrant sound weaving a layered and textured tapestry of melody.

The foursome won critical acclaim for the debut 2013 album ‘RANT’ and have made major festival and concert appearances across Europe. They’ve been described by Songlines magazine as ‘An irresistible journey through reels, strathspeys and jigs’ and by Roots as ‘Dignified, deep and profound music’.

It’s Scottish fiddle music of the highest order so if that’s your thing the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny (behind An Grianan Theatre on the Port Road) is the place for you tonight. Tickets are priced at €12 and will be available on the door. It’s an 8pm start.

A Night At The Opera

North West Opera make their by now annual visit to An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny next week as they stage a two night run of Die Fledermaus.

Die Fledermaus is a readily accessible operetta. It’s light hearted plot follows 24 hours in the life of a group of Viennese bourgeoisie centred around an elaborate plan for revenge. Disguises, hoaxes and abundant flirtation fuelled by copious amounts of champagne culminate in comical results.

Die Fledermaus opens with its famous grand overture and continues with a host of vibrant arias for duets, trios and choruses sung in English by professional leads and accompanied by a full orchestra.

This is a continuation of North West Operas tried and trusted method of combining professional opera singers and musicians with local amateur performers to produce large scale opera productions. It’s a formula that they’ve employed successfully since 2008 to considerable success. As a result the company is now a regular fixture and feature on the Donegal arts scene.

North West Opera present Die Fledermaus on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th of November at 8pm nightly in An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny. Tickets priced at €19 (€16 concession) are available from An Grianan on 0749120777 or online at