Arts Column with Conor Malone

Arts Column with Conor Malone
EAF Week Two

EAF Week Two

We’re heading into the second and final week of the Earagail Arts Festival, so here’s another list of recommendations for you to go and see. We covered up until Friday 18th last week – you should go to Julie Feeney at The Balor Ballybofey Thursday night and Bombino in Mcgrory’s of Culdaff Friday in case you’ve forgotten. Here’s what’s on my to see list for Saturday 19th all the way through to the closing on Sunday 27th.

Saturday 19th Recommended: Swing – The Holy Trinity Parish Hall, Dunfanaghy. Swing is the latest play by Fishamble The New Play Company who consistently produce brilliant and entertaining new work. Their latest takes place in a dance class and explores the blossoming of a friendship even in hard economic times.

Also consider: El Grey, Balor Arts Centre. Polish duo El Grey play at The Balor to mark the opening of the Through A Polish Lens exhibition. Dreamy and atmospheric, with passion and haunting melodies, they’ve been compared to Portishead, Bjork, Tori Amos and/or Katie Melua.

Sunday 20th Recommended: The Melting Pod Finalé (McGrory’s Backroom, Culdaff). Ralph Rolle (drummer with Chic) and multi instrumentalist Selan (side musician for and collaborator with Adèle) join with musicians from the traditional Irish background to produce something totally new.

Also consider: Swing moves from Dunfanaghy to An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny so if you missed it on Saturday here’s a second chance to dance.

Monday 21st Recommended: Treelan (Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny) – Another trad fusion gig, this time featuring percussionist Eamonn Cagney, accordionist Martin Tourish and Nigerian born guitarist Niwel Tsumbu.

Also consider: Triur agus Triur (Ionad Naomh Padraig, Dore) – three poets accompanied by three guitarists. Gearoid MacLochlainn is accompanied by blues guitarist Mark Braidner, Steve Cooney provides the accompaniment to Dairena Ni Chinneide and Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird is joined by Enda O’Reilly.

Tuesday 22nd: If you’re around in the daytime and you’re looking for something to occupy the kids there’s Little Howards Big.

Wednesday 23rd Recommended: Jonathan Smeaton Q.S.O. album launch (Balor, Ballybofey). Jonathan is a stalwart of the Donegal music scene, having played in bands such as Badlands, The Mystery Shoppers and the legendary Son Of A Preacher Man. His new album, engineered and produced by Billy Robinson in The Grooveshack, Ramelton, features a selction of fine musicians – Peader Coll on guitar and fiddle, Billy Robinson on bass, Laurence Doherty and John Laurence McCallion (percussion & drums), Orlaith Gilchreest (backing vocals) and Pat Crowley on keyboards and piano.

Given Jonathan’s popularity and longevity in the Donegal music scene, expect a host of special guests and surprise performances in what promises to be one of the more unpredictable and lively nights of the festival.

Also consider: Satoko Inoue (Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny) - a selection of Irish and Japanese piano works performed by renowned Japanese pianist Satoko Iniue.

Thursday 24th Recommended: Lords Of Strut present Chaos (An Grianan, Letterkenny) A combination of comedic theatrics with dance and acrobatics, Cork performers Cian Kinsella and Cormac Mohally dance and bicker their way through a riotous hour of physical comedy.

Also consider: : The Drive In at Ards Forest Park is showing The Goonies while We Banjo 3 play The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny.

Friday 25th Recommended: The Drive In (Ards Forest Park) – Evil Dead. In a forest. In the dark. Enough said.

Also consider: Classical guitarist Eduardo Niebla is at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny and North West Opera perform La Boheme at Jacksons Hotel in Ballybofey.

Saturday 26th Recommended: There’s an awful lot to choose from on the Saturday night but I’d have to plump for Cacan songstress Lisa O Neill at An Grianan. Thankfully it’s an 8pm gig, so you should be able to make it up the road to the Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble in The Greenroom. That starts at 10pm.

Also consider: LuxE always present a visual feast and their The Imaginarium can be seen at Ards Forest Park while there’s another chance to see La Boheme at Jacksons, Ballybofey.

Finally, on Sunday the two weeks that were The Earagail Arts Festival come to a close with the Donegal Master Fiddlers Closing Concert at An Grianan, Letterkenny.

Obviously the above is just one man’s pick of a packed festival programme. Log on to for the complete rundown and choose your own favourites.

Earagail At The Balor

After a quiet first few days the Earagail Festival comes to The Balor starting with Julie Feeney’s gig Thursday night. Over the next week there’s two more gigs and a photography exhibiton.

Thursday’s Julie Feeney gig is one I’m really looking forward to. Her self produced debut album ’13 songs’ won her a choice music prize, the follow up ‘Pages’ featured in the book 101 Irish albums to hear before you die, and her 3rd ‘Clocks’ was voted Irish Times album of the year as well as going straight in at #1 in the Irish album charts. So we’re talking about someone who’s managed to walk the often tricky tightrope between both critical acclaim and commercial success. What’s her secret? Two things – she’s damn good and she‘s very original. She doesn’t ape anybody else’s sound. Her innovative, avant-garde approach, while rooted in classical music, straddles both the pop and theatrical worlds. Sharp witted, unpretentious and fiercely passionate, Julie Feeney is a genuine artist and a hugely enjoyable performer.

There’s a very definite Polish flavour to proceedings on Saturday with the launch of the Though A Polish Lens photography exhibition marked by a concert by Polish duo El Grey. Dreamy, atmospheric and intimate, filled with genuine passion and haunting melodies, the El Grey sound is an alternative blend of dream rock, acoustic minimalism, electronic, ambient, hip-hop and jazz.

Compared to Portishead, Bjork, Tori Amos and/or Katie Melua, El Grey is an act that will give you goose bumps. A mature sound that will keep your mind intrigued and your ears alert.

The exhibition itself – which is on view for the following two weeks – features the work of five Polish photographers who have made the North West of Ireland their home.

Kamil Krolak is an award winning photographer and film maker whose creative production company Kamilfilms is based in Galway. Patryk Sadowski is an accomplished photographer residing in Derry. Among many notable photographs his images of the Milky Way featured on the cover of BBC Stargazing Live’s Star Guide for 2013. Joining them in exhibiting their work will be Sabina Blaszczok, Maciej Wysocki and Agata Szarek.