Live: Kilkenny Roots Festival 2016 Preview


So another year, another great Roots Festival. Around this time each year for the last number of years, I start to get excited about what this weekend will bring. The most enjoyable thing about the Roots Festival, apart from the great head-liners, which are always consistently good, is the Music trail. The experience of meandering from pub to pub with no plans, and coming across anything from rockabilly to rock to roots is one I always enjoy.

Kilkenny Roots FestivalSo what’s to look forward to this year. Well there are a number of impressive headline acts (Richmond Fontaine, The Weather Station, The Delta Saints) but the Music Trail has some of the best gems. With all of those gigs free, there will be something for eveyone there. So without further ado, here are my picks of some of the acts I recommend to check out over the weekend.



The Festival kicks off on Friday night. There is quite a nice mix to look forward to. Malojian  (Billy Byrnes, 7:30pm)are kicking it off along with Tim. V Smyth and The Sky At Night. Tim is a member of Hidden Highways, one of the the best of Irish artists around. Tim will be performing a solo show though I’m not too sure how it will be. Malojian is an artist I hadn’t read much into before but I am very intrigued by his sound.

On the music trail, Joe Fury plays Sheens at 10pm. One of my favourite eirecana bands; the Midnight Union Band play Ryans at 10:30pm.



Saturday kicks of relatively early with some conversation rather than music with Willy Vlautin, lead singer of Richmond Fontaine (and novelist) discussing his career with Tony Clayton-Lea. There are gigs from 1pm with Cale Tyson kicking things off in Cleeres. The Music Trail gigs starting from 4pm. If you like a bit of rockabilly but think it needs a few more traditional instruments you should catch Daniel Meade and The Flying Mules (Breathnachs, 4pm).

An artist I recently came across whom I am a quickly becoming a fan of the more I discover his back catalogue is Ben Reel (Langtons, 5pm.Shems, 10pm). He plays a number of gigs over the weekend in Kilkenny. If you fancy a but of blues after that, you could do no worse than check out Strange Brew playing Christys at 9pm.

The big acts for Saturday include Richmond Fontaine (Set Theatre, 7pm), the self-described psychedelic voodoo rock of The Delta Saints (Kytelers, 9pm) and Cork’s own John Blek and the Rats who have progressed from the Music Trail a few years ago to the main stage in the Set Theatre. Catch them at 11pm (Set Theatre)


Sunday migth think would be a mellow enough day but looking at the line-up, it doesn’t seem that way for the Roots festival. At 2pm festival stalwarts  The Needables will kick things off at The Playright. Later One Horse Pony (4pm , Biddy Earlys) might be one to check out if  you are swayed by the blues. If you are, like me, a bit of a fan of Neil Young, you might want to check out Psychedelic Pill (5pm Breathnachs)

Just after that gig The Blood Red Mountain Band (Christy’s at 6pm) make their first appearance at the festivalTheir soulful melodies is one that really belongs at home at the Roots Festival.

If you fancy something different, you might want to check out Fernando Viciconte (Billy Byrnes, 5pm). The Argentina-born and Portland based artist has released a number of well received albums. To round the evening off I suggest you definitely see a bit of Mongrel State (Matt the Millers, 10pm). Expect the band to play a few number from their latest release Mestizo.



Monday is the true come-down with some appearances from the likes of Deep Down Detox (Ryans, 4pm). There is an intriguing gig “Roots Ramble” (The Pumphouse, 1pm). There are little details as of yet but it that’s the enjoyment you get from taking a chance at these sort of festivals.

So enjoy if you are going and if not, there is always next year. More details on the Music Trail is here and for the Headline acts you can find out more here.

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