Summer Festivals Part I – June

In an attempt to change about this blog from being just another blog about recorded music, I’ve decided to make it a just another blog about recorded music with the occasional post about live music. Yey! The approach here is to highlight as many festivals as I can where you will catch Irish americana bands this summer and beyond in Ireland. Sometimes people struggle to think beyond the big two (Electric Picnic and Oxegen) as I call them when thinking about festivals and I have been guilty of that before but hopefully I can point you in the general direction of something different that might be worth checking out. Also apologies to all international readers of this blog as I am only featuring Irish festivals. But hopefully this post will provide the impetuous you need to come to Ireland this summer. I will just cover the smaller festivals and ignore the larger corporate affairs. If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of festivals in Ireland, you can’t go wrong here. After realising that there are an awful lot of music festivals going on this summer and that I have to work in the morning, I have decided to break it down month by month, easier for us all. So to start with June.

The Happy Valley Festival
Where: Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny
When: June 1st-4th
Cost: €16.50 Sun €15 (for 15 bands) Mon €18 (Paul Heaton)
Camping: Yes
Website: Happy Valley Festival

Coming this weekend, the Happy Valley Festival has been going for 7 years and has a very respectable history to it. It can claim to have hosted Lisa Hannigan first solo gig and has featured previously David Kitt and Jape. This year’s line-up feature a solo gig by Nathan Conway of The Bottlestoppers,Slim Pickins, who are an old style roots band and Knoxville Morning, another solid americana band.

Handily the Festival has put up a selection of tracks on soundcloud to give you an idea of what sort of sounds you can expect. Check it out here.



No Place like Dome

Where: Sligo
When: June 15th -17th
Cost: €80
Camping: Yes
Website: NPLD
One might call No Place Like Dome a multi-format festival. It features art instillations as well as music. The main feature is the geodesic Dome with the addition of several more domes in recent years. It also has apparently the world’s largest guitar (which you can climb in). The website doesn’t mention sadly, if it’s an acoustic or electric or if it’s plugged in. The music features quite a number of bands some of which I have featured on this blog before including The Eskies and Cold Comfort and some that I have yet to feature including Ross Breen. and The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock.
That should get you in the mood.

Helium
Where: Ballymahon, Co. Longford
When: June 9th
Cost: €40
Camping: Yes
Website: Helium

The Helium Festival is a small one day music festival located in the loveliest part of the country that everyone but the residents ignore (the midlands). Yes I’m from there myself (the midlands that is). Anyway the festival is well worth checking out. Firstly you have great bands and secondly it’s all for a good cause, raising funds for Ataxia Ireland. You have Ash headlining with the Delorentos, Duke Special and one of my favourite Irish bands The Kanyu Tree. But lower down the bill you will find quality americana. Saint John The Gambler are a band with that Texas border latin mariachi sound. Actually it’s worth going along just to see this lad do the Knightrider theme song on a flute. No I’m not messing.

Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival
Where: Westport, Co. Mayo
When: June 29th – July 1st
Cost: FREE except main gigs €15 each
Camping: No
Website: Westport Bluegrass & Folk Festival

Last but not least I decided to highlight a music festival acknowledging the tradition from which the americana genre emerged. Now I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of bluegrass. I would find it hard to listen to a whole cd of Bill Monroe songs but listening to bluegrass live, I think is different. You just want to start dancing on tables. It’s worth heading there not least because it’s free but even the headline acts are worth the admission. Viper Central are a Canadian outfit playing straight up bluegrass. Closer to home James O’Connor is a Laois man doing lovely folk music while Mikey & The Scallywags sound like a lot of fun.

Other ones worth checking out are briefly The Strawberry Festival in Enniscorthy this weekend where I see Light, Camera, Sundown are playing. And Forkstock in Clones looks like it has a solid line-up as well.

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