All the world’s on­stage

For three days and nights each Au­gust, Dún Laoghaire erupts in a mael­strom of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism as the best theatre, dance, mar­kets, ex­hi­bi­tions and work­shops on the planet con­verge on Co Dublin. And the mu­sic’s not bad ei­ther, writes Jim Car­roll

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

THE an­nual meta­mor­pho­sis is about to be­gin. Ev­ery Au­gust for one week­end, the sea­side town of Dún Laoghaire turns into Fun Laoghaire. More than 220,000 peo­ple come out to play as the Fes­ti­val of World Cul­tures takes over the streets, parks, bars, clubs and venues of the town for three days and nights.

As al­ways, the sta­tis­tics are strik­ing. More than 800 mu­si­cians, plus 1,000 par­tic­i­pants and vol­un­teers, will be over­see­ing some 150 events from Au­gust 22nd to 24th. But those fig­ures are not half as im­pres­sive as the FWC’s mu­si­cal scope this year.

While a lot of at­ten­tion will – jus­ti­fi­ably – be paid to the colour­ful, fam­ily-friendly span of work­shops, ex­hi­bi­tions, street events, kids’ stuff, mar­kets and as­sorted arts and crafts frol­ics which will be go­ing on all over town, this year, the fes­ti­val has dis­played con­sid­er­able mu­si­cal mus­cle and smarts with its book­ing pol­icy.

It doesn’t get much bet­ter than a show­case for the mu­sic and mu­si­cians from the fan­tas­tic Ethiopiques se­ries of al­bums. Since 1998, Francis Fal­ceto’s Ethiopiques re­leases have turned up an ex­tra­or­di­nary trea­sure-trove of sounds from the golden age of Ethiopian and Eritrean mu­sic in the 1960s and 1970s.

Back then, the clubs in Ad­dis Abba were swing­ing, full of mu­si­cians who were ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent styles of mu­sic in a hugely unique man­ner and com­ing up with their own lan­guage. Ex­pect to hear big-band jazz, funk and soul to stir the heart and move the feet when the mighty band-leader Mah­moud Ahmed – along with Mu­latu As­tatqé, Ale­mayéhu Eshete and the Ei­ther Orches­tra – get into a groove at the Pavil­ion Theatre on Fri­day Au­gust 22nd. If you only get to see one show at the FWC, this is the one to catch.

Those who have seen Wes An­der­son’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zis­sou will al­ready have seen Seu Jorge and, more im­por­tantly heard the Brazil­ian crooner’s sub­lime songs (plus some David Bowie cov­ers too). Be­fore his film ca­reer – he was also in City Of God – Jorge was per­form­ing in pop-samba bands such as Farofa Car­i­oca, and recorded a de­but album, Carolina, with Beastie Boys col­lab­o­ra­tor Mario Caldato.

Th­ese days, Jorge spe­cialises in breezy favela-folk, mu­sic which tips the straw hat to such trop­i­calia mae­stros as Gil­bero Gil but which is firmly rooted in the nu-Brasil of to­day. Ex­pect good vibes and fan­tas­tic songs when Jorge and band take to the stage at the Purty Kitchen on Satur­day Au­gust 23rd.

The mean streets of Brook­lyn are home to the Balkan Beat Box, but their sound criss­crosses oceans and oceans. It’s a per­fectly re­alised sound clash where Balkan, Mediter­ranean and Ara­bic rhythms sit com­fort­ably shoul­der to shoul­der with hip-hop, elec­tron­ica and dance-floor funk.

In many ways, it’s a sound per­fectly in tune with the jump­ing and pump­ing cul­tural mix of their New York neigh­bour­hood back home. It has also proven to be hugely pop­u­lar with fes­ti­val-go­ers world­wide. Balkan Beat Box bring the noise to the Purty Kitchen on Sun­day 24th.


In 1989, Yungchen Lhamo fled her na­tive Ti­bet across the Hi­malayas, first to Nepal and then on to In­dia. An en­counter with the Dalai Lama in Dharam­sala in­spired her to de­vote time to de­vel­op­ing her mu­sic. Now based in New York, Lhamo has re­ceived much ac­claim for her ex­quis­ite voice and dis­tinc­tive, del­i­cate songs about her ex­pe­ri­ences in ex­ile, as show­cased on al­bums such as Ama. She per­forms at Monkstown Parish Church on Fri­day 22nd. Sa Dingding comes to Dún Laoghaire with a whole bun­dle of BBC World Mu­sic Awards to her credit. The “Chi­nese Kate Bush” has made quite a splash al­ready, singing songs in Mon­go­lian, San­skrit and Ti­betan with an ex­otic mix of tra­di­tional Chi­nese in­stru­ments, elec­tronic beats and gui­tars. Two mil­lion album sales in south­east Asia per­suaded ma­jor record la­bel Uni­ver­sal to take her on. She per­forms with full band and dancers at the Pavil­ion Theatre on Sun­day 24th. There will be plenty of en­ergy and ex­u­ber­ence on show when Orches­tra Na­tional de Barbes start to rum­ble. Like sev­eral acts from the north African im­mi­grant com­mu­nity of Paris, the 11-strong Orches­tra have been deeply in­volved in mix­ing and match­ing African, Ara­bic and west­ern sounds on al­bums such as Alik. They play at the Purty Kitchen on Fri­day 22nd. The fes­ti­val’s main stage is lo­cated at New­town­smith Green, and there will be free con­certs here on Satur­day and Sun­day. Those per­form­ing on Satur­day in­clude Cote d’Ivoire reg­gae artist Tiken Jah Fakoly, In­dian per­cus­sion­ists Senses, Ir­ish-Nige­rian singer Bridgy, Hot­house Flower Liam Ó Maon­laí in solo mode and a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Mon­aghan’s O’Neill Pipe Band and Spain’s Samba da Rua.

Sun­day’s show at this lo­ca­tion will be head­lined by Parisian “sal­samuf­fin” star Ser­gent Gar­cia, with sup­port from the North Strand Klezmer Band, Cork-based rhumba mer­chants Motema (re­cently seen wow­ing the crowds at the Farm­leigh Af­fair) and Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha.

You won’t be able to move for free shows around the town over the week­end fea­tur­ing Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional acts. Ones to watch out for in­clude Lisa Han­ni­gan per­form­ing songs from her forth­com­ing de­but solo album Sea Sew (Kingston Gar­den Ho­tel, Sun­day), heavy-hit­ting Balkan rhythms from the Ir­ish-based Yurodny (Royal Marine Ho­tel, Sun­day) and the sounds of Lyon as played by Fan­fare Pis­ton (Peo­ple’s Park, Sun­day).

Left: Favela-folk mae­stro Seu Jorge and, be­low, the Orches­tra Na­tional de Barbes

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