forewarning: gird your loins for an Easter weekend of unholy music sessions, warns Mark Graham
‘Ah c’mere, why didn’t you tell me that one was on?” If Bill Cullen had a euro for every time I’ve heard that refrain from a forlorn festival absentee . . . Easter weekend is looming large, and it’s not just a time for self-flagellation with egg wrappers and hot-cross buns. There’s a festival storm of biblical proportions brewing.
This day week will see the seventh incarnation of the what the Barn Dance posse call “Ireland’s only BYO music and arts festival”. Venues, nightclubs and pubs all over the country pull down their shutters for Good Friday, but the Barn Dance boyos encourage people to hit the offy on Thursday to stock up for their mystery tour on Friday.
The venue for the festival is a closely guarded secret, but once you catch the Barn Dance bus or train, it takes you about 50 clicks outside Dublin to the session site.
Barn Dance is a bash that’s big on beats, buzz and bumper cars. Acts such as Hermitage Green and Smash Hits suggest a mainstream commercial concern, but these are offset nicely by The Minutes, Booka Brass Band, and King Kong Company (one of the early announcements for Body & Soul). DJ Yoda and Jamie Jones are acting deckhands for the evening, and anyone who’s caught Yoda’s thumpin’ and entertaining multimedia mixing will understand why he’s making a return trip to Bundoran this year to rock Sea Sessions all over again. Expect Darby O’Gill to be dropped in the mix.
Buses for Barn Dance’s mystery tour leave from Custom House Quay, and festival trains from Connolly Station also stop off in Bray. On a day when eternal damnation might be a concern, I’d recommend getting the train: at least you can say you’ve done “The Stations”.
A REGGAE GOOD FRIDAY
Another crew risking the fires of hell in order to distract you from your devotions are the folks behind Tramore Ska and Reggae Festival. Neville Staple, The Specials roustabout, will lead the seaside shuffle and skank on Good Friday. Keep sketch for The Toasters, a dynamic New York City outfit who spread the gospel of Ska stateside. The Two Tone fans at the hop in Trá Mhor will strive to prove that dancing can indeed be a form of devotion.
If you miss the train to Skaville, fear not – Rub-A-Dublin is a one-day reggae festival on Easter Sunday, brought to the Dublin Massive by Irish Moss records. Trojan Sound System (see interview, page 9) and Dirty Dubsters will deal out the one-drop in The Twisted Pepper, with some authentic Jerk Chicken, rice and peas provided for skanking sustenance. Beware of Rastas swinging thuribles.
The Phase One Electronic Arts Festival in Carrick-on-Shannon may not seem like a relaxing Easter retreat. But if the prospect of big beats and blinding bulbs doesn’t inspire calm, the opportunity to shack up in a Shannon cruiser for the weekend might just float some boats. Disco bunnies will be dropping their eggs and shaking their legs at Terranova, Sid Le Rock and Andrea Parker, while King Kong Company surface here again on Easter Sunday.
If those sessions aren’t sacrilegious enough for ya, more than 500 vikings will descend on St Anne’s Park in Raheny to reenact some pillaging and monastery sacking. Luckily the marauders at Clontarf Viking Festival are a friendly bunch who only simulate slaughter. Booka Brass Band pop up again here. Raheny should be an entertaining option for anyone pushing a pram.
The selection of unholy sessions on offer over Easter will undoubtedly attract hordes of heaving heathens, so get your sandals laced up and your shekels sorted, lest you end up forsaken and cross in Co Limerick at the passion play up on Nicker Hill. Consider this your burning bush.
Safe travels, don’t die.
RAKING ROGER AT TRAMORE SKAFEST
THE BIG BEASTS OF KING KONG COMPANY