More Artists Added to The National Folk Festival

Alan Kelly Quartet
Image Courtesy of The Alan Kelly Quartet

The National Folk Festival has never stuck to the traditional route of making one or two major artist announcements, instead choosing to drip feed the performers as they are confirmed. The National is still five months away but we’re already pretty excited by the artists announced so far. Today’s additions include Victor Valdes, Frank Yamma, Richard Perso, Riogh, Mike McClellan, Riley Baugus & Kirk Sutpin, Mic Conway & Robbie Long and Timber and Steel favourites The Alan Kelly Quartet (above). For the full lineup so far head over to official National Folk Festival web site.

And speaking of The Alan Kelly Quartet we thought we might start a rumour. When we spoke to the Irish-music legend at WOMADelaide earlier this year he said, and I quote, “I think Eddi [Reader] might be out next year”. Given that Alan Kelly has now been confirmed for The National and he plays in Eddi Reader’s band we reckon there’s a high likelihood that the Scottish singer might also make an appearance at the festival. Pure conjecture but if it turns out to be true remember you read it here first.

Stay tuned for more announcements for the National Folk Festival as we get them!

WOMADelaide Review: Alan Kelly Quartet

Alan Kelly Quartet
Image Courtesy of WOMADelaide

Alan Kelly Quartet
Saturday – Morton Bay Stage

As a self-confessed trad-tragic the “guilty pleasure” band for me at this year’s WOMADelaide was always going to be the Alan Kelly Quartet. For those not in the know Alan Kelly is a master trad player from the west of Ireland credited with (according to the official bio) “making the piano accordion hip again”. I have seen Kelly perform before as part of Eddi Reader’s band but this was the time I’ve managed to catch his work with the Quartet live.

There is one of two ways a traditional Irish group can go when it comes to a live show. They can either take the performance route and be standing on stage playing to the crowd or they can sit in a semicircle giving the audience a sense that they have stumbled in on a traditional Irish pub “session”. With the Alan Kelly Quartet the decision was definitely for the latter and as a result we were treated to a lovely intimate performance of the best in Irish music.

I was overwhelmingly impressed with Alan Kelly and his cohorts. Their mastery of their respective instruments was sublime and while Kelly himself is very obviously the driving force behind the group with his piano accordion this really felt like a true collective of musicians. My standout of the Quartet would have been flautist and vocalist Steph Geremia, originally from New York but currently living in Galway, Ireland, who’s lilting style matched perfectly with the fiddle, accordion and guitar. Her self composed piece “The List Maker” (about Kelly himself) was easily my favourite tune with its driving 7/8 rhythm.

Overall a wonderful performance. I also caught the Alan Kelly Quartet on Sunday as part of their workshop session where they explained the history and arrangements behind the tunes which was definitely worthwhile. If you get a chance to see Kelly while he’s here (and don’t worry if you don’t – he comes back almost every year either by himself or with Reader) then you’ll absolutely fall in love.

Brunswick Music Festival This March

Lolo Lovina
Image Courtesy of Lolo Lovina

When you think about a folk festival you usually imagine driving to a normally sleepy country or coastal town, setting up a tent on a field somewhere and joining a temporary community of people who are all in the same place for one thing – fantastic live music. All of the major folk festivals, from Woodford to Port Fairy to Blue Mountains, are regional affairs. Even the National Folk Festival is held north of Canberra and one doesn’t have to venture into the urban environment at all to be part of it.

And this is what makes the Brunswick Music Festival different. Set up on Sydney Road in Melbourne’s Brunswick, the Brunswick Music Festival truly is an urban affair, making it one of the biggest (if not the biggest) city-based folk festivals in Australia.

This year the festival, now in it’s 23rd year, will be held from the 16th to the 27th March. The list of artists is pretty impressive and includes the likes of Crooked Still, Tony McManus, Andy Irvine, The Alan Kelly Quartet, Lolo Lovina, Flap!, Eric Bogle, Judy Small, Leah Flanagan, Shane Nicholson, Ted Egan, Vika and Linda Bull and the WooHoo Revue, just to name a few.

Details on the full lineup, playing times and tickets to the various shows can be found on the official Brunswick Music Festival web site. If you’re in Victoria or can get to Melbourne while the festival is on we think it will be well worth a look.

Womad Spotlight On: Alan Kelly Quartet

alan kelly
Image courtesy of Alan Kelly

If you’re a sucker for a good old fashioned celtic-folk jig, Womadelaide 2011 is going to be the place for you. Alan Kelly, who is considered amongst experts to be the best player of the piano accordion in the world, will be bringing his quartet to the Womadelaide stages in March.

As a youngster, Kelly was somewhat of a piano accordion prodigy, winning competitions all over Ireland. As he grew up and ventured out, his experience grew through collaborating on various projects including his own band Mosaic, and a number of endeavours into theatre. All the while, Kelly released solo material, the latest of which, After the Morning, was released this year.

To be the best in the world at something is no mean feat. In the musical world, this status puts Alan Kelly on the same pedestal as our musical heroes. So why is it that most people have never heard of him before? Traditional Irish music is a fairly niche market in this country. Although Kelly has collaborated with many of Ireland and the world’s finest musicians, none of them are really Australian household-names.

Kelly’s quartet includes fiddle player Tola Custy, flautist Steph Geremia and guitarist Donogh Hennessy, a combination of instruments that promises to get your shoes off, your strides rolled up, and your drinking stein splashing about as you jig around merrily at Womadelaide 2011. Of course, you could just sit down and enjoy it, but everybody else will be dancing.

Country of Origin: Ireland
File Under: Traditional Celtic Folk
Day/Time: Saturday, March 12th Afternoon

WOMADelaide Artist Sneak Peak

Angus and Julia Stone
Image Courtesy of Angus and Julia Stone

The official lineup announcement for next year’s WOMADelaide festival is set to hit the interwebs on the 17th November this year. But as a teaser the crew at WOMADelaide have let slip a bunch of confirmed artists which include:

Angus and Julia Stone (above)
Afro Celt Sound System
Nitin Sawhney
Creole Choir of Cuba
Alan Kelly Quartet
Rajendra Prasanna
Omar Souleyman

Check out the official web site for more details

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