land lovers

An incomplete roundup of the new Irish music released this week. What did I miss? What should I listen to? Tweet me your abuse and recommendations.

Land Lovers – ‘Springtime for the Mystics’
Clocking in at just under five minutes, ‘Springtime for the Mystics’ is the opening track of Dublin five-piece Land Lovers‘ new album, The Rooks Have Returned, released on Popical Island on May 13. I was late to the first taster of the album, ‘Angeline‘, but both tracks point to this being one of the albums of the year. ‘Springtime for the Mystics’ was premiered on Northern Transmissions, which gives us some insight into the heavy lyrics: “The lyrical milieu is an imagined future for one of the children in revolutionary Dublin between Volunteer positions at Easter 1916. Relocated to Liverpool, he succeeds in mainstream politics and attains some power but his background is a constant source of worry, and there is a scandal (personal? political?) waiting to break. Weaved into this are occult visions, false dawns, untrustworthy harbingers of spring and the paranoia of the self-made man.” A quick glance at the lyrics of the song – “Ten years ago I spoke at Llandudno, an entryist questioned my name and I grew indignant, making it clear where my loyalties lay” – suggest that this should really be filed in the trying-too-hard category. And yet it all sounds pretty effortless. It’s an indie-pop band with aspirations, who don’t want to be confined. I can’t wait to see what else they’ve come up with for The Rooks Have Returned.

Land Lovers tour dates:

May 13 – Connolly’s of Leap, Cork
May 14 – Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork
May 20 – Central Arts, Waterford
May 21 – Workman’s Club, Dublin
August 17 – Roisin Dubh, Galway


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John of Silence – ‘No Lie’
The guys from O Emperor are embarking on various sideprojects in between making albums. Philip Christie and Brendan Fennessy are dabbling in 60s psych-pop with the Bonk while Richie Walsh’s John of Silence is going all in on lush funk a la Jungle. ‘No Lie’ is the sound of the cool biker strutting to the bar of a saloon, its patrons, full of life beforehand, having fallen silent as they eye up this tattooed and dirty deity. You know how the rest of the scene goes: there’s a bar fight, the biker wins, never losing his cool, gets the girl and gets a bottle of tequila for his troubles. The visuals for ‘No Lie’ don’t quite pan out like this, featuring some NSFW things befalling a pineapple. This is the first single from John of Silence and oh boy does it whet the appetite – and kinda makes me want to buy some fruit too.

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Skinny Downers – Kill Figures (EP)
It seems like Waterford band Skinny Downers have been around for a while, though, just like their sound, crafted “in a repourposed office block on the outskirts of Berlin”, according to the press release, they kind of exist on the outskirts of things. They’re the kind of band that makes you say, ‘Oh… yeah, I think I’ve heard of them before.” This EP, Kill Figures, is their first release as a duo – it’s Dean O’Sullivan, one part of the band Percolator and from Waterford, and Stella Sesto, from Sardinia – and they instantly sound more likely to stick in your mind. “Now we’ve got this alpha shit, I’ll have to lower my eyes,” O’Sullivan snarls on the angry ‘New Conservative’. It’s noisy, powerful and with shades of Suede and Altered Hours. There’s a groove there as well, but it’s one that’s played out in a pitch-black room. Closing track ‘Go Bigger’ has an irresistible bass groove and sounds like a distant cousin of Joy Division. It’s going to be much harder to let Skinny Downers slip from your memory now. They play Cork Community Printshop on July 2.


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Shit Robot – ‘Lose Control’
There’s not really much to say about a new track from Shit Robot is there? You know Marcus Lambkin is going to bring the vibes, the perfect soundtrack to bring the night to its peak. ‘Lose Control’ is exactly that (says the person typing in his pyjamas at 11am on a Thursday, bleary eyed from tiredness rather than an immense night out). It features LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang and that most essential of call to arms/dancefloors: “Get up, get up, get up”. “I can’t fight this feeling,” Whang says. Few Shit Robot listeners can. New album What Follows, featuring New Jackson (David Kitt), Alexis Taylor and more friends, is out on DFA, his third release there, on May 6.


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Brigid Mae Power – ‘It’s Clearing Now’

A slight name change from Brigid Power Ryce, ‘It’s Clearing Now’ from Galway singer Brigid Mae Power was premiered on Pitchfork on Tuesday. Laura Snapes, one of the best writers around, said: “Strings spill over from mirage-like shimmer into an overpowering heatwave, and rugged winds and cavernous depths emerge.” It’s the kind of song, minimal but expanding over more than seven minutes, that really takes you away. There’s an assurance there – confidence is a must if you’re making a near-eight-minute track. Best listened to as you ponder the big things in life while lying in the middle of a field starting at the clouds. As Snapes points out, there’s quite the hint of Angel Olsen about, which is no bad thing. ‘It’s Clearing Now’ is taken from Brigid Mae Power’s forthcoming self-titled album recorded with Peter Broderick in Oregon. We interviewed Brigid back on episode 3 of the TPOE podcast.


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Spook of the Thirteenth Lock – The Bullet In The Head
“Let it rise,” Spook of the Thirteenth Lock pronounce about a minute into this new piece, ‘The Bullet In The Brick’. Press release: “Featuring the same electric guitar orchestra used in ‘Lockout’, the band’s multi-movement work set for release later in 2016, ‘The Bullet in the Brick’ explores various aspects of the Easter Rising such as the bombing of Dublin by the British gunship The Helga, the murder and attempted cover-up of activist Francis Sheehy Skeffington, and finally the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The piece consists of three parts: A Destroyer on the Liffey; The Bullet in the Brick; A Proclamation. It’s performed by The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock and Electric Guitar Orchestra: Albert Baker, Mark Balbirnie, Eamon Brady, Susan Callaghan, Mary Carton, Bill Coleman, Mark Jordan, Hugh McCabe, David McDonald, Colin J Morris, and Patrick Wall.” It was released on the calendar centenary of the Easter Rising. If you’ve seen Spook play the aforementioned ‘Lockout’, you’ll know what to expect. And even if you didn’t see that, ‘guitar orchestra’ should give away a lot of what this is about. There’s a romanticism here, but it’s mixed with anger, of course, and there’s something about the final piece, the self-explanatory A Proclamation, that will rouse something in every Irish citizen no matter how cursory your attention to the centenary celebrations were. The tracks below are, alas, just snippets of the full suite. You can hear it in full over at State and buy it here.


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I Hava A Tribe – ‘Buddy Holly’
I go weak at the knees when I hear Patrick O’Laoghaire’s voice. Under the moniker I Have A Tribe, the Dubliner releases his debut album, Beneath A Yellow Moon, on May 27 via Groenland Records. The video for ‘Buddy Holly’, taken from the album, is wonderful: Directed by Myles O’Reilly, it features Donal Dineen, Mick Minogue and Steve O’Connor building a cardboard car for Patrick, who is watching grainy old footage of Dublin. I guess you could call ‘Buddy Holly’ a truthful love song. While he says that “any day you show up is a better day”, the chorus is mournfully honest: “You’re never off my mind, that’s not true, there is not always time to think of you, so I guess you cross my mind and when you do, I think it’s always kind, a kind of true.” Patrick told the Independent: “I think I wrote most of it in spring in 2008, and finished it then in 2015. I have this notion that sometimes, because humans have been writing songs and melodies for so many hundreds and thousands of years; when a song presents itself to you as an idea to write down – maybe you’re just making your own version of something that was already kind of done. And I don’t see it as a bad thing – more-so I take from this that the same sentiments and emotions have moved humans in the same manner always, and the attempt to write comes from the same source. With songs, then, maybe some musical templates become timeless, because a certain structure of chords or a certain movement of a melody will reveal itself again and again. When I played this song for a piano teacher of mine 7 or 8 years ago, I remember she started to sing Buddy Holly, It’s Raining In My Heart. So I went and I listened to that song, and it was a nice comfort to hear the same pattern at the start. So that’s where the name comes from. I left it alone for a few years then. and dug it back out when I thought I had something more to add to it. Lastly I brought it to my friend Paul, and he added a drumbeat to it that gave the song a sense of humour, and then it was done. For the video, I wrote to Myles O’Reilly. We had some tea in his kitchen one afternoon and I played him the song, and he marched around his kitchen shouting ideas at the walls. A few weeks later he brought us to a yoga studio and projected old footage of Dublin on the walls, and dreamed up a wooden box car for me to sit in. It was a joy to work with him, and Donal, Mick, and Steve.”


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I am niamh – ‘Wait Until The Morning Comes’
This is one of those songs which, because it sounds so close to distinctive voices as Kate Bush and Fiona Apple that you want to resist it. But Niamh Parkinson aka i am niamh, early on in its 3.44-minute running time, manages to fit in the turn of phrase “What’s the rush? I’ll get some Factor 55 cause you burn like a black piece of toast”, and you realise actually this is too nice to resist. It’s a little (a lot) twee, but it’s got a lovely early morning (just as well, considering the name of the track), orchestral chorus that will get you chirping along with the birds outside. ‘Wait Until The Morning Comes’ is taken from i am niamh’s debut album, Wonderland.


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RSAG – ‘Leave A Light On’

Jeremy Hickey is one of the most impressive musicians in the country, managing to put on the most idiosyncratic of live shows. The drummer/multi-instrumentalist/singer/accountant (probably, along with 17 other jobs) is Rarely Seen Above Ground, and returns with ‘Leave A Light On’, a taster of his third album. It seems like RSAG has been around forever – indeed, Organic Sampler came out in 2008 – and yet I find myself struggling to think of his songs. He’s probably one to file in the underappreciated category, and it’s more than likely my own ignorance. Despite those stellar live shows, I rarely reach for an RSAG album the following day, seemingly forgetting how much I enjoy it all until the next time he rolls into town. But ‘Leave A Light On’ instantly demands your attention. We open with a funky drum fill, lasting seven seconds, and it sets the tone for the following 3.39 minutes. The bassing synthy brass is damn sexy as Hickey proclaims that he’ll shield his love even on swelling tides. Just leave a light on or… “I disappear.” I can’t wait to hear this track live.


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Windings – ‘Stray Dogs’/’Helicopters’
It’s been four years since Windings released I Am Not The Crow, which was nominated for the Choice Prize (Delorentos won that year), and two years since their split album with Land Lovers. And yet it feels reassuring to have Windings back with new music and details of their fourth album. It’s called Be Honest and Fear Not, and is out in the autumn via Out On A Limb. Recorded with Tommy McLaughlin, I would say you know what to expect: Mainly guitars and big riffs that would make J Mascis proud. But you kinda forget the Limerick five piece, headed by Steve Ryan who cut his teeth (Tooth? Ahem) with Givemanakick, are capable of more insular and sombre moments. See ‘Old Like J’, ‘Apologise’ and ‘Cleaner’, to name three. So ‘Stray Dogs’ really isn’t much of a surprise – maybe it’s just when a band returns with a new album in tow you expect them to waste no time in showing off their shiniest, loudest, brashest track. This isn’t that. Nialler9 called it dark, dank and foreboding. It’s wistful: “Every note is an apology but every word is a regret.” And Ryan clarifies that “the stray dogs are my mortality, tear at my ankles once again”. ‘Helicopters’, meanwhile, is not going to feature on Be Honest and Fear Not. They say it “is the result of a collaboration between windings and producer Naive Ted. It’s a one-off release without any ties to any album or such, and we very much hope you enjoy it.” It’s even slower than ‘Stray Dogs’ with Naive Ted (who supported GAMAK on their farewell tour last year so it’s no great surprise to see them collaborate) adding creaks, rushes and a general feeling of unease to what is already an anxious song, dealing with searches of the Shannon.
windings Live dates:
May 21: Kasbah Social Club, Limerick
May 26: Roisin Dubh, Galway
May 27: De Barras, Clonakilty
May 28: Crane Lane Theatre, Cork
June 10: Doolin Folk Festival, Clare


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AboveDat – ‘Addicted’ (Feat. Christiana Underwood)

AboveDat are Cork DJ Stevie Grainger and Ian Ring, one third of Young Wonder, and ‘Addicted’, featuring Cork singer Christiana Underwood, is their first song. Christiana was a regular onstage as Stevie played the festival rounds, mixing a DJ set with some original tracks. This is the natural progression, it sets quite the benchmark. Summer is coming and ‘Addicted’ sounds like it’s going to be the perfect soundtrack to it.


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This week’s TPOE podcast: Carried By Waves
After the release of second album Resolute, Carried By Waves aka Ronan McCann sits down to chat about creating that ‘difficult’ second album, how ideas can develop, playing live, and, since this is the first TPOE podcast since Prince has died, we talk about the influence that the Purple One has had on Ronan.

le galaxie press

Le Galaxie are on the 10-act shortlist for the Choice Prize for Irish album of the year 2015. The winner will be announced at a live show in Vicar Street next Thursday, March 3. They’re up for Le Club, one of the most ridiculously fun albums to come out of Ireland in a long while. Listen to it on Spotify or buy it in your favourite music shop. I got to chat with Le Galaxie frontman Michael Pope over the weekend for the latest The Point Of Everything podcast. Wrecked from moving studios over the previous few days, Michael was still up for a wide-ranging chat, touching on the ‘economic recovery’ and its impact on artists and spaces in Dublin, such as Block T. We were both at Foals’ show in 3arena a couple of weeks ago, which Michael was quite taken by, so he tells us his thoughts on what he takes away from shows, how he’s always learning and looking at new ideas. We also talk about the early days of Le Galaxie, when they were far from the cocksure strutters that they are now. After some discussions on the Choice Prize, Michael reviews The People v OJ Simpson and predicts who will win the Oscars at the weekend.

You can listen to the podcast below via Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. I’ve transcribed a few highlights from the podcast below, to give you a taster of what to expect.

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Altered Hours‘ debut album, In Heat Not Sorry, is out now on Penske/Art for Blind. Ahead of its release I got to chat to three-fifths of the Cork-based band, co-vocalists Cathal and Elaine, and guitarist Kevin, for the TPOE podcast. You can listen on Soundcloud or iTunes (you can also subscribe to both so you never miss an episode). I’ve transcribed a little bit of the interview after the jump.

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ros steer

In the latest episode of the Point of Everything Podcast – guest-hosted by Bríd O’Donovan (who also took the two photos in the post) as I was feeling sick – Ros Steer, formerly of Saint Yorda, talks about her current band Morning Veils. Completed by Aisling O’Riordan and Elaine Howley, the Cork-based three piece have just released their debut album, Her Kind, on Ros’s own label, Kantcope, which she runs with Mary Kelliher. In the interview, Ros chats about how she developed as a musician and as a music lover, chats about the confidence that being in Saint Yorda gave her, her creative process, why the Kantcope released have been done on cassette, and more. I’ve transcribed some of the highlights from the interview below, but if you want to listen to the interview, click the Soundcloud player below or listen (and subscribe) on iTunes here.

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Kicking off the first TPOE podcast of 2016 is the renowned Irish writer Kevin Barry. Last year I made a concerted effort, probably as part of my resolutions, to read more books. I think the goal was 100 books (I failed). Along the way I came across Kevin Barry and his two collections of short stories, There Are Little Kingdoms and Dark Lies The Island. I loved them. His style is so distinctive, every sentence getting a kicking and a licking and leaving you exhilarated by the time you reach the full stop. He’s one of the most influential writers around – try to find an Irish fiction writer in their 20s or 30s who doesn’t reference him. His first novel is City of Bohane, and his second, Beatlebone, came out in the second half of last year. It’s based around the story of John Lennon, who did genuinely own the island of Dorinish in Clew Bay, Co Mayo. From there, Barry tells a fictional account of Lennon trying to reach the island in 1978, just to get away from it all, to scream, to find calm and to be at peace with himself. It’s a stunning piece of work, which has already won Barry the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction. It also found its way onto many writers’ end-of-year lists. Towards the end of 2015. So I was delighted to get a chance to sit down with Kevin Barry for my podcast. We talked about his living in Cork, Limerick growing into itself culturally, acid house, Beatlebone, Lennon, writing City of Bohane to dub reggae, Winter Pages, and a lot more. You can listen to the podcast below, via Soundcloud, or subscribe on iTunes by clicking here. (It’s also available on the likes of Podcast Republic and Podcast Addict.) I’ve also transcribed the whole piece, which you can read below, though why would you pass up the chance to hear Barry spinning yarns in his distinctive drawl?)

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icefall

It proved much easier than expected to put together this mix of Irish acts getting in the Christmas spirit, through covers or indeed original tracks – an original Christmas song in the mid-20=teens!?! I know! It’s 14 tracks long and could’ve been at least four tracks longer, but it was a little impromptu and kind of on a whim – I should’ve been in the gym but got distracted putting the mix together. I’m hopefully going to do more mixes and radio show-type things in 2016 – no, it won’t be new Christmas songs every week, which I presume would be close to impossible and potentially maddening. It’ll be new Irish music mixed with classics and stuff like that. That’s the plan, anyway, so make sure you follow me on Mixcloud to ensure you don’t miss out. Soundcloud and iTunes will only be for podcasts. That’s the plan, anyway…

Here’s the tracklist for the Christmas Mix:

1. Naive Ted – ‘They Wasted Lewis’
2. Frankenstein Bolts – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’
3. Lauren Bird – ‘Christmas Time’
4. Rest – ‘Walking In The Air’
5. Sleep Thieves – ‘November Christmas’
6. Adebisi Shank – ‘All I Want For Christmas’
7. Casanova Wave – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’
8. Eoin Dolan – ‘Sail That Boat, Santa Claus’
9. Imploded View – ‘It’s Xmas 2015’
10. Croupier – ‘Carol Of The Bells’
11. Giveamanakick – ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’
12. Christmas Hearts – ‘Christmas Is In Your Heart’ (which was made for charity last year and can be downloaded here)
13. The Mighty Stef – ‘Shit Christmas Without You’
14. White Boys – ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’

The Point of Everything Christmas Mix 2015 by The Point Of Everything on Mixcloud

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While it’s quite daunting just thinking about reading a 600-plus-page book, David Cavanagh must have thought it impossible trying to sum up the legacy of John Peel and chronicle 35 years of his shows in only 600 pages – he must have expected it to top a thousand. But that’s what he’s done with Good Night and Good Riddance: How 35 years of John Peel helped to shape modern life. The subtitle is a little misnomer: it’s mostly confirmed by Peel playing ‘God Save The Queen’ by the Sex Pistols when the BBC had banned the song, his championing of reggae and rap when nobody else was taking a chance on it, bands doing renowned Peel sessions before their debut album’s been released, before their next record’s been announced. He plays your new favourite band before anyone has heard them.

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After last week’s hour-long show about our favourite albums and shows of 2015, I’m again joined by Chris (Elastic Sleep), Darren (Hags) and Niamh (Across The Line) to talk more generally about the albums making waves on lots of end-of-year lists. There’s talk on: Eagles of Death Metal, Meltybrains, DJ Paypal (yup), Sufjan Stevens, Foals (‘What Went Down’ is one of my favourite songs of the year. Chris: “As soon as I heard you say ‘What Went Down’ I thought, ‘Their ability to write a good song.’) Blur, Sleater-Kinney, Owensie, Roisin Murphy, The Jimmy Cake, Girls Names, Villagers, and Bjork. Then we look forward to albums of 2016, particularly Altered Hours’ In Heat Not Sorry. Plus our favourite Christmas songs. See you next year!

the lie ins

Lie Ins, comprising Mike Stevens, Mark Chester and Ruan van Vliet, released their debut album, Death To Lie Ins, almost three years ago. Today the two-piece have released a new single that you can download for free from their Bandcamp page. With a chorus built around cries of “1-2-3-4” on a song that lasts less than three minutes, it’s hard not to think of the Ramones when listening to ‘Love in the Attic’. “You’re no good, you won’t do, here comes another one that’s better than you,” they huff as the song grows to encapsulate a classic surf-rock riff. ‘Go Back To Billy’ opts for a lo-fi sound, which isn’t really surprising considering the EP was recorded only last week by Chester in the Pop Inn, and harks back to a more care-free Josef K. Both tracks pack a lot of fun into six minutes – and all for free! Lie Ins are one of at least nine bands playing the fifth Popical Island all-dayer, taking place upstairs in Whelan’s this Saturday, December 19. Tickets are only a tenner. The other acts due to play, with more expected, apparently: Squarehead, Skelocrats, Ginnels, No Monster Club, Owensie, Walpurgis Family, The Number 1s, and Me and My Dog.

quarter block party

After a successful inaugural year, Quarter Block Party, presented by Makeshift Ensemble and Southern Hospitality Board, returns to North and South Main Street, Cork City, on February 5-7, 2016. The likes of Elastic Sleep and Altered Hours starred on last year’s music programme and this second installment looks like being just as exciting. Here’s the list of who has been announced so far – apparently there are more music acts to be announced, as well as the full theatre and performance programme.

Acts announced so far:
Spook of the Thirteenth Lock present ‘Lockout’
Bitch Falcon
Daniel Knox
Horse
Lowlek
Lakerama
Damsel
Chris Power
Sillk
Stevie G presents a J Dilla special
Donal Dineen
Somerville
Laurie Shaw
Paddy Hanna
Joni
Basciville
Duende Dogs
Alex Petcu
Steven Sharpe and the Broke Straight Boys

Here’s a Soundcloud playlist of most of the acts:

It’s a doozy of a lineup. Headlined by the Spooks’ Lockout event, which will be only the show’s second outing, and the first in Cork, “the band will be joined by an electric guitar orchestra, bringing this unique sound into the world of contemporary Irish traditional music in the stunning venue of St Peter’s Church (formerly Cork Vision Centre)”. Bitch Falcon are one of the hotly tipped Irish acts for 2016 as they reach back to the early 90s for a raucous grunge sound. Other highlights for me include Lakerama (Graeme S and Senita) and Sillk, both of whom should also feature on many tips for 2016 lists. The beguiling singer-songwriter Somerville, the soul/blues duo Basciville, the workaholic Laurie Shaw, Popical slacker Paddy Hanna and Joni, whose song ‘Running’ was one of the defining sounds of Web Summit, all ensure that Quarter Block Party should be a must-go for music fans.

And if that’s not enough, then read this, from the press release: “Quarter Block Party ‘15 was founded in unusual events in unexpected spaces, and rooted within the community of North and South Main Streets, and this year sees an expanded and inclusive community event programme. One of the aims of the festival is to provide a legacy – an ongoing improvement of the North and South Main Street area. This year sees the beginning of this in ‘Welcome to Paradise’, with the creation of a permanent mural in Paradise Place by up and coming artist Peter Martin. Creative activities like gardening can have significant positive effects on mental health, and so ‘A Growing Conversation’ invites you to have a relaxed cuppa and a chat before taking part in a spring gardening workshop in the Basement Resource Centre. Going international this year, the EBC-Project is a conversation of three cities Eleusis (Greece), Budapest (Hungary) and Cork around the past, present and possible future of abandoned manufacturing sites. This project is developed in collaboration with Motus Terrae (GR) and Placcc Fesztival (HU) with parallel conversation events happening in the two cities creating invisible links to Europe. The Festival will also provide an opportunity to play the unique instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan, an ensemble of instruments consisting of gongs and metallophones, an experience not to be missed. Storytelling workshop Shop Around the Corner aims to start a process of sharing and artistic exchange between the traders serving the neighbourhood and other active members of the community.”

Ticket info for Quarter Block Party 2016:
Weekend ticket:
€35 + booking fee (Includes priority booking for all events as part of the festival, excluding Spook of the Thirteenth Lock)
Weekend ticket + Spook of the Thirteenth Lock: €40 + booking fee (Includes priority booking for all events as part of the festival including Spook of the Thirteenth Lock)
Spook of the Thirteenth Lock: €12.50 + booking fee; ‘Lockout’ – St Peter’s Church, Saturday, February 6