The Arts column with Conor Malone

The Arts column with Conor Malone
This Week’s Highlights

This Week’s Highlights

Tonight is the final night of the Donegal National School Drama Festival at The Balor Ballybofey. It’s also the opening night of Gutz – a new musical by local composer David Oliver at The Alley, Strabane where it plays until Saturday. Also running until Saturday is Horrible Histories at The Millennium Forum, Derry.

The Irish Aerial Dance Festival is ongoing in Letterkenny and, as part of it, The Aerial Cabaret takes place at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny this Saturday night.

And there’s more musical in The Alley Strabane with St Mary’s PS presenting The Rocky Monster Show from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th.

Tues 16th – St Mary’s PS The Rocky Monster Show til Thurs 18th

The Railsplitters

The Railsplitters bring their brilliantly uplifting Bluegrass from the Colorado Rockies to The Balor, Ballybofey next week.

Boasting formidable talent and energy this 5 piece bluegrass band are renowned across America for their exhilarating performances and great material. Since starting out in early 2011 they’ve won two major US contests – the 2012 Pickin’ in the Pines and 2013 RockyGrass events.

With powerful vocals, great harmonies and breathtaking instrumentals, the band has the kind of raw power that will always impress. Playing with the kind of grace and confidence expected from their elders, they have a real depth of character and formidable talent, drawing influences from all the greats - including Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs as well as modern-day contemporaries.

When they released their latest album in the UK, it received widespread acclaim. The hugely-influential Spiral Earth said they played “brilliantly uplifting bluegrass that pays its dues but is resoundingly modern” and AmericanRootsUK said simply: “The virtuosic playing and vocals here are just about as good as anyone.”

I got a copy of the new album in the post last week and it’s really whetted my appetite for this gig. It undeniably plays its bluegrass dues and features some of the most impressive picking you’ll hear on an album this year but it’s so much more – there’s parts of the album where, without leaving their bluegrass base, there’s layers of jazz, blues and even soul. And it all works beautifully. The really exciting this is that bands with this kind of background were brought up playing live, are happier playing live and are almost always better listened to live so, as much as I’m enjoying the CD, I’m really looking forward to the gig.

The Railsplitters play The Balor, Ballybofey on Friday week June 19th at 8.30pm. Tickets are €15 available from The Balor Box Office on 0749131840 or online at

Musical Gutz

Local musicals are all the rage this week at The Alley Theatre in Strabane with Gutz The Musical opening tonight (Thursday June 11th)for a three night run followed by St Mary’s PS The Rocky Monster Show next week.

Gutz is a brand new musical from well known local composer David Oliver. It tells the story of Casey (Kit) Carson – a strong, fiercely independent, highly intelligent and very attractive 23 year old from Boise, Idaho. The ambitious Casey works in the heart of New York City and dreams of a place among it’s business elite. In the cosmopolitan hotbed of a 21st century city, where success sees no colour or gender, Casey has left her quaint hometown at just the right time - or has she?

With a great and experienced cast, a 10 piece live band and an extensive chorus, Gutz is an explosive, highly charged musical exploration of the seductive, hedonistic and deceptive nature of life in the big city. Where the soundbites of ‘progress’ and ‘yes we can’ idealism mask the same old attitudes and old boys networks. Themes of love, harassment, infidelity and personal struggle intertwine to reveal a story reflective of the times we live in.

Gutz opens at The Alley, Strabane tonight (Thursday June 11th) at 8pm. It enjoys a three night run there until Saturday 13th. Tickets are a steal at a mere £7.50 (£5 concession) so take a trip along to see a new original musical – they don’t come around every day you know.

St Mary’s PS enjoyed considerable success at The Alley a couple of years ago with their ‘The Pirates Of The Curry Bean’ show. They return next week with a similarly humorous spoof ‘The Rocky Monster Show’ – a bizarre, anarchic and very funny rock ‘n’ roll musical. Think of a riouous mix of the Addams Family, Young Frankenstein and Phantom of The Opera with liberal helpings of The Rocky Horror show thrown in for good measure.

‘The Rocky Monster Show’ runs from 16th to the 18th June at 7.30pm nightly. Tickets are £5. For info and bookings on either Gutz or The Rocky Monster Show contact The Alley on 048 7138 4444 or log on to