Pursued by a Bear »

  • Sports writing to knock you out

    August 30, 2010 @ 11:47 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Last week, I eventually got around to reading this excellent column by George Kimball, a US sports columnist for this newspaper and one of the best sports writers in the business (truth be told, I could write that sentence every week and it would still be true). If you haven’t discovered Kimball’s column yet, get cracking – it is one of life’s true pleasures. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend …

    August 27, 2010 @ 11:49 am | by Laurence Mackin

    See: It’s all very well being cutting edge and part of the hip new thing, but sometimes you need to get a bit of tradition and grandmastery into your bones, just so you know you were born. The French Connection and the Rediscovery of Thomas Hovenden, now showing at the Ava Gallery in Bangor, Co Down, should do the trick. (more…)

  • What the arts can learn from football

    August 25, 2010 @ 12:15 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Tonight sees A Dream Play by August Strindberg open at the Peacock Theatre. It’s got a heavyweight production crew behind it, with Jimmy Fay calling the directorial shots with a pared-back Caryl Churchill script in hand. (more…)

  • Coming to a screen near you – the theatre

    August 23, 2010 @ 2:27 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    There is an intriguing piece by Andrew Dickson over on the Guardian website on the Traverse theatre’s plans to broadcast one of its theatre shows live to cinemas in the UK and Ireland tonight.
    (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend ….

    August 20, 2010 @ 12:58 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen to: We were going to recommend you head North and check out the Belsonic festival, but all the good gigs are sold out. So instead, go for the capital and prepare yourself for a night of gentle, subtle, emotive soundscapes with . . . sorry, prepare to have the shirt ripped off your back and a full-on sonic punch up from Adebisi Shank, who are launching their new album tonight in Whelan’s. (more…)

  • Fringe benefits

    August 17, 2010 @ 5:53 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    No sooner has the Kilkenny Arts Festival cooled its jets than the Absolut Fringe in Dublin is vying for your attention. The festival kicks off on September 11th with more than 479 performances of 100 shows in 40-odd venues. That’s enough to make your head spin. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend

    August 13, 2010 @ 9:14 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Go and see: the staggering work of Sebastião Salgado. This Brazilian photographer is a former member of Magnum and produces epic photographs that are powerful enough to knock you over. (more…)

  • Fame, fortune and the nine to five

    August 11, 2010 @ 11:48 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    I was reading this very punchy piece in the Guardian about Enda Walsh, but one line in particular nearly stopped me dead in my tracks. (more…)

  • Telling stories and singing songs at the KAF

    August 9, 2010 @ 6:04 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Over the first weekend of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, two acts in particular stood out. On Saturday evening, while Robert Fisk was delivering the Hubert Butler lecture in St Canice’s Cathedral, Pierce Turner was ripping it up in Kilkenny’s Parade Tower with his blend of singing, storytelling and more than a touch of vaudeville.

    Turner divides his time between Wexford and New York and here, with accompaniment from Karen Dervan and Lynda O’Connor on viola and violin respectively, he bounced between piano, guitar, and a bit of xylophone, and interspersed his set with various stories relevant to his songs. His show opener was a narrated short story with some projected images about two men enjoying a marvellous conversation. The set was exciting stuff, with plenty of humour and skill and a real traditional feel, in that the audience wasn’t so much listening to a series of songs, as been told a long story, with all the different elements interlinking along the way through song, spoken word and even the odd few shapes that Turner was throwing on stage.

    On Sunday, Erik Friedlander brought his Block Ice and Propane project to the Set Theatre, and although it was a much more contemplative affair, it had a lot in common with Turner’s show. Friedlander is the son of Lee Friedlander, a US photographer, and every summer the family Friedlander would be packed into an ageing pick-up truck, with some accommodation built on top, and they would take off on a mad, few months’ long dash from the east to the west coast. Friedlander’s father like to make the most of the summer months, the beautiful light and the long days.

    The result is a cache of photographs that depicts the US from coast to coast, and hundreds of pictures of little Erik, his sister, parents and oddball aunts and uncles, supplemented by some haunting films by Bill Morrison. Block Ice and Propane (Friedlander specifically referred to it as a “project” rather than an album) is directly inspired by this, and Friedlander narrates various slides of his family and tells a few very charming stories about what sounds like nothing less than a great American adventure during the 1960s and 1970s.

    The music itself is stunning, switching from raw, meditative laments of open prairies to rollicking, blistering reels which rip of Friedlander’s carbon-fibre cello with astonishing alacrity and technique. Some of the tracks are sophisticated and delicate, whereas others sound like they have just rolled in off the Appalachian mountains.

    So where do this unlikely pair meet? Well, Turner’s show was not entirely solo whereas Friedlander was, but both were crossing a lot of boundaries with these concerts. There was a modern, multimedia element to both, but the beauty was in the very act of telling stories, using music and sound, film, video and instruments, in a very naturalistic and accomplished way. Many performers get up to sing their songs and think it is enough – and in many cases, it is. But in these two acts we have performers, from very different places and very different backgrounds, who go a step further in bringing their message out into the open, and creating an experience that is all the more immersive and engaging.

    And just in case you’re more than a little intrigued, here is Turner with The Sky and the Ground, named after a Wexford pub. Drink it in. For a little taste of Friedlander, check out Friday’s post on the weekend’s events.

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  • If you only do one thing this weekend ….

    August 6, 2010 @ 11:03 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Then get your buns down to Kilkenny where the annual Arts Festival is kicking into gear. So this week all our selections are coming at you from the Marble City Massive. (more…)

  • When did this place get so lively?

    August 5, 2010 @ 11:02 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Has Dublin always been this active? I only ask, because in the past week here’s what I’ve managed to see. Last Friday, there was a cracking gig in the gloriously ramshackle surroundings of the Joinery gallery in Stoneybatter, where, for the princely sum of ¤8 you got four performances, from a solo jazz drum and electronics set and some quality rock and roll, to a blissfully moody improv set from the Buzz Aldrin Allstars featuring members of Adrian Crowley’s band, Halfset and 3epkano. (more…)

  • The Poles are coming, and only Alan Rickman can save us

    August 2, 2010 @ 4:40 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    We’re spoiled for choice in Dublin’s theatres at the moment. The Plough and the Stars is building up a critical head of steam in the Abbey, while I have heard more than one person describe Death of a Salesman at the Gate as the best theatre experience they’ve had. (more…)


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