|Main Street Dingle|
Best Hang Out: Benners Hotel Lobby / Green Room
Best Spoken Word Event: Banter 98 at Foxy John's guest Paul Galvin
Best Solo Perfromance: Colm Mac Con Iomaire on 5 string zither violin at An Lab
Best Act : Lost Brothers
Best Local Contributer: Padraig O Sé Box Player
Amid the clamour of wind and rain, gig junkies and musicians made the annual pilgrimage to Dingle for the annual niche music festival, Other Voices. At its core, three nights of uber cool TV programmes featuring an eclectic mix of genres. The spin off--an extensive fringe of live gigs from early afternoon to late draws pilgrims out of the cold into the huddle of cheerful pubs and the more hallowed civic and sacred spaces in the South Kerry town on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you are not in St James Church, Dingle for the Other Voices broadcasts, the next best place to be is across the road in the relative comfort of Benner's Hotel, The elegant town house lobby acts as a green room for the performers and crew. Phillip King looking dapper in skinny jeans and maroon bomber jacket greeted the new arrivals and artists breezed through the lobby all spruced up in their stage gear before being miraculously 'teleported' onto the big screen in front of us like Mike Teavee in Willy Wonka's Factory
There are advantages to the hotel lobby OV experience other than proximity to the bar. The lobby audience are not bound by the same rules of etiquette such as applauding and refraining from chatting among themselves. There is a moment on Friday though, when a hush descends, the chandeliers are dimmed and all eyes and ears lean forward, the better to hear the sotto voce, Lost Brothers' beguiling close harmonies. Flanked by twin fiddlers, Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Steve Wickham, something magical happens as the four musicians move onto a plane of perfect visual and melodic symmetry and both sides of the Main Street seem to resonate in a sense of communion. You could hear a proverbial pin drop and there is for the first time that evening an outbreak of applause.
More sibling resonances as real life French /Cuban twins Ibeyi filled the ethic/ world music slot. Their expressive gleeful features leaped out of the box. They accompanied themselves on piano and beat box but it was their a capella Yoruba songs that most captivated the lobby contingent.
|Colm Mac Con Iomaire|
It was standing room only for Colm Mac ConIomaire’s , solo fiddle gig at An Lab, a black box theatre space housed in a school. Known for his association with The Frames, the Dubliner featured also on David Gray's hit album White Ladder. He augmented his sean nos inspired improvisatory fantasies with a series of loops from a foot pedal station, which he jokingly referred to as his recession quartet. He was joined by Catherine Fitzgerald on piano for a portion of the set. The Dubliner plays a distinctive 5 stringed instrument known as a zither violin with a broad bottom and angular shoulders made by 18th century Dublin luthier, Perry.
Mac Con Iomaire joined The Lost Brothers for their late afternoon gig at An Diseart . The audience crammed into the mahogany pews listened with an intensity bordering on reverence under the lilac glint of the Harry Clarke stained windows.
Over at Foxy John's Pub, music journalist Jim Carroll took up a position by the fire for the 98th Banter session, a series of interviews with musical interludes podcast for an online audience Interviewing a somewhat guarded Paul Galvin about his new book, it emerged that his writing talents had been spotted at school and he might well have gone into journalism. You can listen to that podcast here .
Back in Benner's for the evening broadcast. Damien Rice had us swooning with his witty lyrics en francais and we chatted among ourselves as Mercury winners, Young Father's raucous heavily choreagraphed routine didn't quite transmit effectively through the glass and chrome receptacle. 'Not quite my cup of tea' was one punter's summary. It was good too to hear local box player, Padraig o Sé's emphatic slides and polkas coming in on the Saturday night air in Main Street.
To stay near the main hub of activity, you won’t want to pass Benner’s Hotel . Although the town was buzzy, there were plenty of vacancies with just a few premises displaying house full signs. We stayed at the Marina Lodge which offered bright and comfortable budget accommodation in a super waterfront location a stones’ throw from the town centre .