Friday, April 20, 2007

Legends, Ceilidh, and Sean Tyrell

All text copyright Ita Kelly (c) 2007

Ita Kelly talks to Mick Crehan about the Galway Sessions which five years on, is still going strong.

The festival is centred around the thriving musical heart of the city. “You can come to Galway at anytime of the year and there’s great music to be seen and heard in the local pubs” says Mick Crehan the festival director and indeed one of those who came up with the idea for the festival along with Minister Frank Fahey TD and Lúnasa founder Sean Smyth. “We were all of one mind” says Mick, “that there was an exceptional amount of music, a real wealth in Galway, and it was important to get that message out.” They were joined in their efforts by Coilí O Flaherty of Tigh Coilí and Martin Lally of Taaffes Bar. Ireland West Tourism also supports the festival, as do Galway City Council, and Guinness came in as sponsors. “The main aim is to show people what’s going on here all the time and to bring top quality musicians to Galway for the week.” continues Mick.

Venues this year include many well known musical houses, MT Pockets in Prospect Hill and Richardson’s on the Square, Taaffes, Tigh Coilí, Tigh Neachtain and the Quays Bar; the Róisín Dubh, Monroe’s Tavern and The Crane Bar. All venues will host sessions each day, and concerts are tailored to suit the venues. The Róisín Dubh is running a series of gigs featuring bigger bands and artists. High energy trad band Gráda will perform there, as will Maria Doyle Kennedy and her band and the ever popular Andy Irvine. Andy performed at the festival last year and was keen to return. The Crane Bar with it’s folk club atmosphere hosts a series of concerts titled ‘Legends’ featuring artists such as accordion supreme Finbarr Dwyer accompanied by Brian McGrath, Joe Burke and Anne Conroy-Burke, Dessie O’Halloran and friends and the one and only Freddie White.

The Galway sessions not just about traditional music although trad is at the core of the festival. “We’re trying to reflect what’s happening in Galway musically as well” says Mick.

Monroe’s bring an international dimension of the festival this year with a Scandinavian band The Café Minors. “They’re a fiddle based band” says Mick, “ who specialise in Gypsy and Jewish Klezmer Music. They’re a very exciting band and will also play in the Crane and the Quays.”

The open air ceilí on the Saturday of the festival will feature The Kinlochard Ceilidh Band from the Trossachs area of Scotland. Two accordions, two fiddles and drums form the heart of this lively ensemble that expands up to 7 or 8 musicians. Specialising in Scottish country dance music and ceilidh, they have fans as far away as Hollywood where they regularly travel to perform at parties and weddings. Band members will also perform in the session trail during the week.

The Quays are putting on a series of late night concerts. Two Time Polka who play a mixture of rockabilly and Cajun music are one of the many bands lined up to play there.

Renowned musician, singer and storyteller, Seán Tyrell will perform his new show at the Druid Theatre each night during the festival. ‘No Go Bravatsky’ is a musical journey tracing Tyrell’s travels through music, song and story often with hilarious consequences.

“A lot of the musicians that are playing at this festival, would probably be seen around the world in auditoriums and bigger venues,” says Mick Crehan. “Traditional music is good on any stage but I think its best to see it in its natural environment.”

“The Galway Sessions is a real opportunity and people get a kick out of the fact that they can come into relatively small bars, intimate areas, and experience that whole session vibe where the audience is as much part of what’s happening as the musicians that are playing. That’s the thing we want people to see. It’s something that’s very vibrant in Galway, its happening all the time. For me, it’s almost Fleadh Ceoil time in Galway all the time. You can wander through any of these pubs any given day and there’s music going on in the evening and the night time. There are very few places in the world where that are happening on a continual basis."

More information at; email info@galway; 087-2245637

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