Notes cascading from a mellow wooden flute greeted patrons stepping in to Dolans last night as the regular trad session musicians occupied their usual spot in the downstairs bar. The dockside venue was a hive of activity upstairs and down . In the warehouse, Minister on European affairs, Lucinda Creighton was topping the bill at a debate in the Leviathan series title 'Communicating Europe'. I can't say it looked too lively but I didn't dwell too long as my destination was the Upstairs lounge where travelling troubadour David Hope performed a short but compelling set of his own songs as part of the prelude to an album launch by rock group, Senakah. I suspect Hope has no ambivalence about European citizenship and spoke to me with enthusiasm about his recent tours in Switzerland and \Germany where he regularly plays to packed venues. For more on David and his work, this article on Breaking Tunes is quite comprehensive; http://breakingtunes.com/davidhope
David Hope was preceded by newcomer, Emma Kate Langford. There was quite a contrast between these two singer songwriters. Hope dominates the stage like a colossus, the guitar looking diminutive in his hands. The songs are at times dark in tone accompanied by forthright rhythmic guitar and delivered in a deep gravely voice. Emma Kate is winsome , petite and beguiling with a clear bell like vocal quality . Something about her style reminded me of Corinne Bailey Rae. The self penned songs are light in tone and she was well supported by Tod Doyle on beat box and vocals and Cillian King on concertina. As usual at this venue, the amplification was effective but not overpowering.
If the performers were disappointed at the paucity of audience , they didn't dwell on it but it was hard to believe that Limerick is the home of two third level colleges, both offering music degrees One wonders where do all those students go on Thursday night. I might add that admission was low at €7. Dolan's do a great job in providing a convivial venue and engaging the artists but one felt that neither of these two high calibre live acts or the venue got the support they deserved this evening.
You can hear one of Emma Kate's songs from the Dolan's set list below and my interview with her on the audioboo.