Ash reignites fire in Downpatrick’s hometown


LOCAL legends return to their old stomping grounds for a summertime celebration and punters look to the winter months with announcements of new shows and releases awash this week.

Downtime Summerfest, the Downpatrick-based arts festival, announced this week that local band and headliners Ash will headline this year’s main stage. The three-piece emerged from town in the mid-90s and makes a rare appearance now and then. But it’s their first in years and attendees are rightly excited.

Local songwriter Charlie Hanlon and the Speedy Mullan Blues Band are also active on the indie scene. Festival chairman Philip Campbell said: “Our aim is to accentuate the positive aspects of Downpatrick and Ash is something we can be proud of. We wanted to mark their accomplishments with the unveiling of the Girl from Mars mural and when the band voiced their approval we thought, let’s see if they’d be up for playing a gig in the city? »

This summer also sees the 10th edition of the EastSide Arts Festival which takes over venues, plazas and studios in the city’s eastern block. With cultural pop-ups like Vault Arts Studios and Banana Block, there’s plenty to see and do on a normal day. ESAF simply puts a host of workshops, comedy, food, fashion and, of course, music front and center.

Stuart Bailie, editor of culture magazine Dig With It, hosted an evening of indie music headlined by New Pagans, fresh off their European tour, and backed by Lemonade Shoelace and Winnie Ama. But for those with a dance mentality, independent promoters The Night Institute have secured the likes of Optimo as well as local producers Timmy Stewart and Jordan Nocturne for several nights of club music across the neighborhood. With songwriters Ciaran Lavery (whom we’ve talked about at length in previous columns, one of our favourites) and Owen Denvir taking the stage alongside a full schedule of events, it’s a festival not to be missed. to lack.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, one of Dublin’s most iconic venues turns 10… plus two. The Workman’s Club has hosted a wide variety of names over the years, but missed its 10th anniversary due to Covid-19 restrictions. Now, two years later, the concert that was supposed to take place has finally taken place, with 10 artists booked to headline the iconic stage. Names such as Villagers and upcoming bands like Skinner and Pretty Happy will ring in the 10th/12th anniversary of one of the pillars of Irish indie music.

New Pagans take center stage at an evening of indie music hosted by Dig With It editor Stuart Bailie

New Pagans take center stage at an evening of indie music hosted by Dig With It editor Stuart Bailie

In other live news, we learned that the Boyne Music Festival will be returning this year with events across Drogheda. Venturing further away from the indie world and more into neoclassical composers, this year’s festival explores the theme “Beauty, Love and Justice”.

Performers include singers Naomi Louisa O’Connell and Joshua Stewart, violist Paul Cassidy, cellist Jacqueline Thomas, clarinetist Jessie Grimes and pianist Deirdre Brenner. Superb renditions of contemporary and classical instruments will be on display at the festival centre, Townley Hall, as well as the Highlanes Gallery and St Peter’s Church of Ireland. Coupled with news of BICEP and Le Boom’s headline dates for 3Olympia and the announcement of Sorcha Richardson’s UK and Irish title (Limelight 2, be here or be square), it was one of the busiest weeks in music. live of the year.

And as always, we end this week’s column by highlighting some of the best indie releases of the week…

Singer Maija Sofia wowed me with her performance on Sorbet’s “I Heard His Scythe” and I’ve been a fast fan ever since. His most recent, “O Theremin,” is a dark, gothic take on indie folk and songwriting. With a voice that could carve marble, this new track is a dreamlike, iridescent journey through the world of Sofia.

And bringing up the rear is Echo Northstar’s debut album, the fuzzy “Someone Else.” The brainchild of Paddy Hennessy, formerly of HappyAlone, this new rock tone is an understated, textured start. Living on the softer side of the scales in terms of production, the synthetic haze on vocals and acoustics gives this track a real alternative feel.

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