Live Music: Summer Festivals Preview

It is a beautiful day and days like these make you think of relaxing, lazying in the sun which in turn makes me think of music, and music and sunshine make me think of music festivals. As such it seems the opportune time to feature a number of Irish festivals that are coming up over the next few months. What I am hoping to do here is guide you through a few of these events, who they are aimed at and who is appearing at them to give you an idea of what they are like. After that, its all down to budget and personel choice.


KnockanStockan

Where: Blessington Lakes, Wicklow
When: 25th – 26th July
Cost: €75, Limited campervan tickets €30
Camping: Yes
Website: knockanstockan.ie
Why should I Go: Probably one of the best (small) festivals in Ireland. 
Knockanstockan is back again for its eight year. The festival returns with one of the best line-ups of Irish music you are likely to see anywhere this year. As usual there is a lot of Eirecana related acts appearing over the festival weekend; The Hot Sprockets, Fox Jaw, Crow Black Chicken and Cold Comfort (above) to name but a few. The festival has a few new stages this year including Grabbers Cottage, (taking its name from a legendary local landmark in Ballyknockan), the Gypsy Rollover (a late night area) as well as Dimestore Records hosting of The Circus Tent. Along with a beautiful location, this festival really has a lot going for it. Give it a go.



Jack of Diamonds

Where:  Various venues, Dublin
When: Mid August
Cost: FREE

Camping: No
Website: facebook.com/jackofdiamondsproductions
Why should I Go: A free festival with a brilliant line-up (usually)

One that I have mentioned before and am happy to mention again, Jack of Diamonds is a free festival that showcases some great music for the past few years. The festival has organised some masterclasses before with top musicians but no word on what is happening this year. In fact there is no word on artists this year either. Seeing that the festival is having the launch party on Saturday July 5th, one hopes it is going ahead. The launch night is a creative affair with a Old Time Radio themed night (hosted by none other than Gavin Glass). Even if you don’t go to the festival, this should be worth attending. Find out more here.


Cowboys and Heroes

Where: Drumcoura, Co. Leitrum
When: 6th September
Cost: €25 incl campervan/camping
Camping: Yes
Website: cowboysandheroes.ie
Why should I Go: Country fun for all the family
Premiering on the festival circuit this year is the Cowboys and Heroes country festival. By the looks of it, the festival will be a mainly mainstream affair. Although the organisers have promised that there will be some alt-country acts as well as bluegrass, rockabilly and Cajun bands too. The excellent Cujo Family are playing for a start. The event will also cater for those of you with children in their lives with what looks like plenty of activities to occupy them from line dancing to children’s bluegrass workshops. Considering tickets are only €25, one hopes that the organisers and bands do well out of it as it is definitely one that could take off.



Ballinamore Fringe Festival

Where: Ballinamore , Co. Leitrim
When: 22nd – 24th August
Cost: FREE
Camping: Yes (First come, first served)
Website: ballinamorefreefringe.com/
Why should I Go: A festival of not just music but comedy and arts too
An amazing little festival that I came across a few years ago, the Ballinamore Fringe Festival packs in a awful lot over a short few days. The music is wide and varied and its nearly all unsigned bands. Its a festival where you don’t bring a schedule with you. Here you just wander and see where your ears or your eyes lead you. There is also comedy, theatre and other arts events happening over the weekend too.



Spirit of Folk Festival

Where: Dunderry Park, Co. Meath
When: 19th-21st September 2014
Cost: Early Bird €65 weekend camping Final €70 weekend camping Camping: Yes
Website: spiritoffolk.com/
Why should I Go: It’s every variation of folk you can imagine

Although I tend to not have too much of the folk genre on the blog, this festival is too hard to ignore. Folk, like Americana can be an all-encompassing genre, that bands can get lost in. Spirit of Folk is including artists from the trad, Bluegrass and country influences as well as others all under the umbrella of folk music.  There will be definitely something there for you. No confirmation on the line-up yet but keep an eye out on the website. The festival is still taking submissions to play there as well; here. As well as that, there is non-music related activities like: Astronomy Demonstrations, Living History, Experimental Archaeology and Outdoor theatre. Looks tempting.

Light Colour Sound Festival


Where: Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny
When: 4th-5th July 2014
Cost: Weekend Ticket €95
Camping: Yes
Website: lightcoloursoundfestival.com/
Why should I Go: It has a whole host of americana and alt-country acts at it.

Something that was not in my original post but just came across it so thought it was worth adding. The Light Colour Sound Festival. As well as featuring headliners like Cathy Davey, And So I Watch You From Afar, the festival features americana acts like local band The Midnight Union Band, John Blek & The Rats, and Raglans. Unusually the festival runs on Friday and Saturday so remember that if you are heading.



Also check out….
Other festivals that could be of interest to you over the next few months are some festivals that may or may not have americana related music but do hover near the genre. That includes the Clonmel Junction Festival (4th-13th July), Indiependence (1st – 4th August), Castle Palooza (1st – 3rd August) , the Harvest Times Blues Festival (5th – 8th September) and the Rock and Roll Conference (15th- 17th August).

So there you go, there are many weekends in the summer in which you can explore and come across something new. So get out there and discover.

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