Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hunters Moon: Part 1

I will now say a few words about the Hunters Moon festival. This was a new event being held in Carrick-On-Shannon, up in Co. Leitrim, on the Halloween bank holiday weekend. Its bill featured a range of local acts from the world of funny electronic music and vague improv, together with a few better-known international names from broadly that world, together with some psychey rockers. I bought a ticket to the event, and then was immediately gripped by buyer's remorse – would it be some kind of horrendous occurrence where the rest of the audience would be ghastly trend people who all knew each other and the music would be served up by a load of boring laptop charlies? The fact that Carrick seems to have become the stag and hen party capital of Ireland was also somewhat ominous, as it raised the spectre of being kept awake all night by the drunken antics of those unfortunate people.

But actually, no, it all worked. It actually more than worked, this event was a big bag of unproblematic fun. The festival organisers managed to put together a bill that would delight any lover of weirdo music, the attendees* were actually interested in music (as opposed to just being yappers and event people) who were happy to give even the craziest avant garde nonsense a listen, and at no point were any of us attacked by an over excited hen party. And best of all, we (my beloved and I) were sharing living accommodation with a former Frank's APA superstar and man about town**, a man with extensive connections in the world of Hunters Moon attendees and performers (who, in fairness, do largely know each other), providing a handy entrée for us into that world.

A few words on the setup. The evening events took place in the Dock*** Arts Centre, a venue I remember from attending a wedding there a couple of years ago. In the afternoon they had concerts, typically of a more acoustic nature, in St George's Church. Everything was conveniently located close to each other and within the town, so there was no great loss of time in moving from accommodation to venues or in nipping off for a bite to eat.

I am not going to a chronological trawl through all the people who played at Hunters Moon – that would leave you having to keep scrolling down to read about people you've never heard of and whose music you are never likely to hear. I cannot even just concentrate on the artists I liked, as I found pretty much everything of some interest. So maybe I will attempt some kind of random sampling process.
The first band I saw were Nuada, some English-Irish folkies (two women and a man) who perform in (faux?) period costumes and play various olde instruments. They were playing when we arrived in the Dock on the first night. I think I liked them because I had not realised that the festival was going to be featuring anything other than guys fiddling with laptops, so they signalled that the event was going to be a bit more musically varied. I saw them again on the Sunday, when they began their set in the church by parading in playing bodhran-like drums and pipes. On this second occasion I was struck by what rofflers they were.

Other top folky stuff at the festival included a performance in the church by Sharron Kraus. I was sorry to catch only the last few tunes by her, as she has an impressive voice and sings the kind of melancholic folky death tunes I wuv. In fact, I am kind of kicking myself for not picking up any of her recorded output, as it really does strike me as being the kind of thing that is right up my alley, with potential for her to join Cate Le Bon and Jane Weaver in the ranks of my girlfriends.

The one folkie I was not so gone on was ironically one of my beloved's favourites of the weekend, one Stephanie Hladowski. She has a great voice and sang an impressive array of doomy folk tunes, but I felt that her decision to sing unaccompanied by any instruments left the music she was making sound too sparse.

* People boasting the most astonishing collection of beards ever seen in one place.

** Aren't they all?

*** Carrick on Shannon is not a coastal town, but it lies on the mighty Shannon river, and so has something approximating to a dock. Hen and stag parties traditionally go for boating excursions while visiting the town, supplying the occasional sacrifice to the River Gods.

more blurry pictures

An inuit panda production

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