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At the recent 12 Points festival in Porto, while I was sunning myself, sampling the wares of local hostelries, and occasionally listening to some jazz, Cormac Larkin was doing some real work. Larkin writes jazz CD reviews for The Ticket and filmed all the concerts in the festival, which you can see here. Below are a selection of the first six concerts, the first three of which I missed, with excerpts from my reviews where relevant. Check out the blog’s earlier posts for the full reviews. The sound quality on these videos is excellent and much of the music and playing is exceptional.
The Irish contingent this year at 12 Points was Thought-Fox, featuring Lauren Kinsella, Colm O’Hara, Michael Coady, Simon Roth and Tom Gibbs on piano.
Big Blue are a Finnish quartet, who stuck around for most of the festival and did a good job of stealing the show at the after-show free jam sessions in Café Labirinto. Kalevi Louhivori on trumpet is definitely a rising star of the jazz scene. (more…)
The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards took place on Sunday night and by this stage you will no doubt have heard who won what, and perhaps by now the winners will even have stopped celebrating. There were several people tweeting live from the event so if you feel like revisiting a rolling commentary, check out the timelines on @laurencemackin, Peter Crawley’s commentary on @IrishTheatreMag or @darraghdoyle’s missives. You can also read Shane Hegarty’s news report from the event, and Peter Crawley’s analysis of the winners. Willie White was also on hand and sent a livestream out, after jerryrigging his phone to a waterbottle like the theatre MacGyver he is. Imeall, TG4’s arts and culture show, was also there filming and will be broadcasting its feature on Thursday night at 9.30pm. (more…)
Ahead of Sunday’s The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, Theatre Forum Ireland asked for feedback on our list of nominees, and it also asked its readers to vote on who they thought should win. So, in true X-Factor style (this is how it works isn’t it? Oh.) though without the poxy texting, here are its results.
It will be really interesting when Sunday comes to see how this fits in with the judges’ picks. The panel – made up of Jack Gilligan, Seona Mac Réamoinn and Christine Monk – are currently locked up in The Irish Times critical dungeon until they make their choices. It’s only fair. (more…)
Listen: No sooner has Richie Egan from Jape concluded his tour in Kerry on Friday night, then he’ll have to hotfoot it back to Dublin to catch fellow Redneck Manifesto-er Neil O’Connor, whose solo project Somadrone is heading up a cracking line-up in the stunning Unitarian Church on Stephen’s Green. Completing this electronica bill are the quality Angkorwat and the immodestly titled I Am the Cosmos. Can I get an amen from the left-field aisle?
Theatre: If you like your theatre classic and full of blood, then the Helix is the place for you this weekend, when David Horan brings his particularly gory vision of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the stage. With Will Irvine and Maeve Fitzgerald in the leading roles, this is a production with more than a touch of class, and the approach seems ambitious and cutting edge, with Radiohead on the soundtrack and cinematic effects on the stage. That should provoke and enthrall more than just the Leaving Cert generation who will be filling the stalls. A little bit of old school Scottish power and fury? Don’t mind if we do. (more…)
On the final day of the 12 Points festival, things took a turn for the accessible, but after three days of challenging, contemporary jazz the shift in programming came as something of a relief.
Berlin-based group Schneeweiss und Rosenrot got things off to an assured and compelling start. It’s a slightly unusual set up of voice, piano, double bass and drums, but one that has plenty of scope for colour and drama and SuR lend a healthy dose of theatre to their sound – little surprise, given that their name comes from a brothers Grimm fairytale. The band like to stop and start proceedings to keep things interesting, but the grooves here are more straightahead, with a definite hip hop feel to some of the tracks. Johanna Borchert builds a wide, warm platform on the piano, with clever repetitive figures that take occasional diversions. This allows the almost-funk and subtle shuffles of Mark Lohr on drums and Petter Eldh on bass to take the audience on a satisfying musical journey, with diversions down darker more abstract alleyways. (more…)
Polish jazz has a fine heritage, and Maciej Obara exemplifies many of its best characteristics. The playing of Obara and his band is polished to a pristine degree, full of elegance and well structured chromatic developments. Obara likes to introduce tracks fairly full on and then sit back to let the drums, piano and bass take a freewheeling wander into more abstract areas, before reasserting the groove and letting his saxophone run a little wild – never too wild though. (more…)
The second night of the 12 Points jazz festival in Porto had sets that were in sharp contrast to one another, something of a hallmark of the festival. First up was Hugo Carvalhais and Nebulosa, the local representative at this year’s festival. The band tend to introduce lines piece by piece and build to raucous finishes with stop-start rhythms and sudden changes of direction along the way, before muscular descents bring things to sudden, slick stops.
This weekend sees the 12 Points festival invading the Portuguese city of Porto. Last year’s edition took place in Dublin, and every second year this Irish festival finds a foreign home, so now it is headed for the banks of the Duoro.
The city might be an ancient gem full of Moorish mystery, but the festival is all about the freshest, hottest sounds in jazz and contemporary experimental music. Some 12 bands from 12 European cities will be descending on Porto for three gigs a night in one of the slickest venues in Europe – the new Casa da Musica. (more…)
IN TODAY’SIrish Times there’s a lovely piece by Donald Clarke about David Kelly, a man whose acting ability was only matched by his boundless charm. There’s a short selection of links with it for some of his work, from his turn as O’Reilly the builder in Fawlty Towers to his role in Samuel Beckett’s Rough for Theatre I. Well worth a watch, though, is his acceptance speech, and the video tributes from the likes of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and many others, when Kelly picked up a lifetime achievement award at the Iftas. He found the whole thing extraordinary, and wondered why someone was giving him an award for being allowed to do what he always dreamed of doing. We will never see his like again.
TODAY MIGHT BE Single Awareness Day, and there’s plenty of events taking place at which those on their own will stick out like a sore thumb (though I’d happily go to see Casablanca in Meeting House Square in Dublin, date or no date). For something a little off the wall, though, you cold head to the Sugar Club in Dublin, which is hosting an alternative night, featuring a screening of Misery and stand-up routines/rants about ex-girlfriends from the likes of David McSavage, Trevor Browne and Giles, followed by tunes from Dermot Kelly, for the princely sum of €5. No flowers necessary.
ADVICE FOR musicians is all well and good, but when it’s Thelonious Monk doing a bit of preaching, it’s time to sit up and listen. This absolute gem popped up on my radar last week, a snapshot of advice given by Monk to Steve Lacy (the writing is Lacy’s but the words are all Monk’s). His rules for playing, and indeed for life include:
“Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.”
“Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.”
“Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!”
“You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?”
Outstanding. Here’s a bit of Monk – whose middle name, incidentally, was Sphere – at his best playing Well You Needn’t. Lacy is in there somewhere too.
THAT PUT ME in mind of the astonishing interview Andre Previn did with Oscar Peterson, where they discuss jazz, musical history, playing styles, their biggest influences, and much more. There’s plenty of links to different parts of the show on You Tube, but it’s worth watching the whole thing, especially the last section when the pair play together. Here’s part one to whet your appetite.
MOST OF YOU will be aware of the excellent Open Culture website, but within the site is a list of free online courses covering everything from Art History and Architecture – with lecturers from Yale and MIT – to Game Theory and Virgil’s Aenid. Now you have no excuse for not fulfilling some of those damned New Year resolutions.
IF ONE OF those resolutions was to buy yourself a slice of movie history from one of the scariest films ever, then step this way. The pub that was used in the Wickerman is up for sale for about £200,000. We hear it’s a local pub, for local people. Britt Ekland is not thought to still work there though. Damn.
AND FINALLY: Nicholson Baker is one of the oddest writers around. He produces books of dazzling intent and craftsmanship , stunning essays on the most mundane objects that we take for granted – the beauty of the stapler, anyone? – and then fires off novels packed full of graphic sex. So when he set down to do an interview for the Paris Review, he set one constraint – that they not talk about his books because it makes him cringe. Just as well he’s got plenty of other things to say then. You can read it here. And indeed you should.
Listen: Music fans – if you’ve little to be at this weekend, you could decamp yourself to Cork and be spoilt for choice. This is largely down to cutting-edge label Popical Island, which is launching a mini Leeside invasion. On Saturday night, it is bringing Tieranniesaur, Squarehead and Land Lovers to the Pavilion for a (shock horror) free gig. And if that wasn’t enough, The Walpurgis Family will be pitching their wares on Sunday night (again for nowt).
Elsewehere in the city, multigenre specialists Tarab are bringing their traditional, jazz and classcial vibes to UCC’s Aula Mxima tomorrow afternoon. One of the best double-headers in months is on in Dublin’s Sugar Club on Saturday night, but it’s sold out – lucky, then, for those in the south that Michael Kiwanuka and The Staves will be bringing their live show to Cyprus Avenue on Sunday.
If they’re a bit stuck for cash, perhaps they could go sharesies with Ms Dynamite on car rental. The rapper and singer is reclaiming her place in the hip hop firmament with a gig in Twisted Pepper on Friday, before showing Cyprus Avenue who is boss on Saturday. And if you manage to get a good spot at the bar in Cyprus Avenue, you might as well stay where you are. Hotly tipped Nordie act Fighting with Wire are rocking into town on Monday.
A rare embarassment of musical southern riches.
Art: There’s something odd happening on the streets of Nenagh. Strange shifts of movement in the night, and odd sounds down nighttime streets. Do not be alarmed. This is art in action. Switch 2012 is currently in full swing, with projected film and video works being thrown on to the town’s shopfronts, with work from international artists including Sarah Buckius, Flatform, Paul Grimmer, Fergus Fullarton, Mark Neville, Lucie Kim and Felix von der Weppen, David Theobald and Nathalie Lavoie. There’s a twilight walking tour at 6.45pm on Sunday, which is your last opportunity to see this excellent project in action. Other towns would do well to follow suit.
Nenagh by night. Exotic
Eat: Tomorrow sees the opening of the Science Gallery’s latest exhibition, and today I managed to get a tasty sneak preview. Edible: The Taste of Things to Come, aims to probe “how our actions as eaters shape what is sown, grown, harvested and consumed”. As well as a selection of fascinating exhibits, including an enormous inflatable colon you can climb into and a kind of nebulised Bloody Mary you can suck through a glass straw, punters can sign up for their own little taste challenge. The gallery is holding two “feeding times” per day where you get the chance to sample dishes that relate directly to the show’s theme. Today, we got to munch on insects, seaweed-inspired creations, and a version of perhaps the cruellest dish in the world: Ortolan. This now-illegal French dish involves catching the tiny Ortolan birds, force feeding them, and then drowning them in Armagnac. Traditionally, they are eaten under a napkin to “hide your shame from God”. (Former French president Francois Mitterand had it for his last meal.) Our version was vegan – so no animals were killed – but it was a brilliant approach that gave a full palette of flavours and all the crunchy texture you would associate with chewing your way through a whole, tiny bird. Science with bite, then.
A science experiment, earlier today. The beer was essential. The scientist said so
HERE IS an ambitious and odd art project that could build into something much more substantial than the sum of its part. The Core project is looking for one video entry for each country from around the world to build a single work of art that will be broadcast globally.
It was devised by Irish artist Matthew Nevin, the co-curator of Mart Group. The idea is that 200-odd individuals will be chosen from around the world. They will be placed in front of a camera, and handed a question that they have two minutes to answer. It’s an interesting idea that could work out brilliantly or crash and burn like a half-baked viral ad. Watch this space.
ANOTHER ARTISTIC idea that is well worth checking out is the 24 Hour Play Project at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Six playwrights, six directors, and a cast of more than 20 will have 24 hours to write, rehearse and perform six plays. The event, in aid of Dublin Youth Theatre, will be anything but amateur, with the likes of Gary Duggan, Deirdre Kinahan, Pauline McLynn, Paul Meade, Elaine Murphy, Tom Swift, Veronica Coburn, Wayne Jordan, Annie Ryan, Alan Stanford, Willie White, Amy Conroy, Derbhla Crotty, Peter Daly, Maeve Fitzgerald, Philip Judge, Louis Lovett, Aonghus Óg McNally, Rory Nolan, Mark O’Halloran, Hilary O’Shaughnessy, Paul Reid, Karl Shiels, Don Wycherley and more involved – and they’ve roped in New York’s 24 Hour Company to get the show on the road. Creative chaos ahoy. It takes place on February 19th.
THE FACEBOOK IPO is set to make many millionaires in the coming months, but artist David Choe might be the most unlikely. He was employed by the company to paint sexually explicit murals at its head office in 2005 (your office doesn’t have some? How uncool.) Choe got paid in shares rather than cash, which at the time might have seemed like a typical fob-the-artist-off move by the fledging company. Now, though, Choe could make up to $200 million for his shares – making his murals (a sample of which are below) some of the most expensive works of art today, albeit in a very convoluted way.
IT MIGHT not be in the millions, but the Sky Arts bursary could make a massive difference to any Irish artist. It is offering five young artists £30,000 each to fund their work for a year. It’s across all artforms, be it dance, theatre, music or modern interpretative mala sculpting, and the winners will also get mentoring. There are 18 days left on the current funding round, so click here for more information on how to get an application in.
HERE IS something very special indeed. The Vincent Van Gogh Letters Project is a remarkable resource. It contains all Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, and to the artists Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, and much more besides. Many are richly illustrated and teem with information and insight. The book edition contains more than 4,300 illustrations, comes in six hardback volumes, and was designed by Wim Crouwel, one of the world’s best book designers. If you don’t have the £450 that Thames and Hudson are asking for it, you can search through the archive online here. An astonishing art history archive, that is freely available? It’s what the internet was built for. Well, that and amusing cat videos.
ONE FOR all the actors out there: if you haven’t read the interview with Brad Pitt from last week’s Guardian, it’s well worth checking out. Short on celebrity, with little scandal, it reads more like an on-the-money analysis of his own performances throughout his career. Refreshing honesty.
AND FINALLY: sometimes you watch music videos and think, that must have cost an awful lot of money. Secondly, you think, these people have way too much time on their hands to be devising nonsense like this, but I’m glad they are out there doing it. This video, from – who else? – OK Go, triggers all of these impulses. 1,000 instrument. Two miles of desert. Some not very subtle car product placement. Huzzah.
See: Kozo is the work of Richard Gorman, a Dublin-born artist who has spent long stints abroad in Milan and Japan, among other places. The latter has a major influence on this show. These are minimalist, delicate works, large elegant slices of colour that collide and complement with vibrant clarity. Gorman makes his own paper – a Japanese process known as washi – and mixes the dye directly into the pulp, which produces the resulting colours that seem to hum on the wall. Aidan Dunne describes the work as Gorman’s “characteristic grammar of just a few geometric motifs, typically circle, lozenge and triangle, arranged in interlocking patterns that have an almost mathematically quality, as though they are a personal species of Venn diagram”. The show is at the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin.
Listen: Two major pop acts will be ripping it up in Dublin this weekend. Factory Floor will be bringing their post-industrial dance tunes to Tripod this weekend in their first ever Irish show. Huzzah. Then on Monday, Whelans will be hosting the rather rude Azealia Banks, whose 212 track has seen her hailed as the next big thing. Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen, but given the swagger and attitude she has displayed in her videos and on record to date, this could be a very special show indeed. Assuming, of course, you can find a ticket. This one sold out in minutes.
Trad: For music of an entirely different canon, and of an astonishingly high calibre, look no further than Triur, currently touring to promote their new album, which is reviewed in tomorrow’s Ticket. The all-star trio are Peadar Ó Riada, Martin Hayes and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and they play Cork School of Music tomorrow, Tulla Court House in Clare on Saturday and then head for Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance on Tuesday. Sure they could easily slip in a support slot with Azealia Banks on Monday. Now that would be worth seeing.
Cabaret: Nighthawks at the Cobalt is a consistently strong and eclectic offering in the classy surroundings of North Great George’s Street’s favourite cafe. This edition on Saturday night features standup comedy and performance poetry, with Q (aka Colm Quearney), Ben Reel and The Crayon Set sharing a stage. Click here for more information.
Theatre: This week saw the opening of I Heart Alice Heart I, which created a major splash when it landed in the Absolut Fringe festival in 2010. It tells the story of two Alices in their 60s, played with heartbreaking effect by Amy Conroy and Clare Barrett, who toy with the audience’s emotions while demolishing a few theatrical tropes and creating something altogether different – a very rare thing in theatre indeed. It’s at the Peacock Theatre until February 18th, and you can read Peter Crawley’s full review in tomorrow’s Irish Times.
In the run up to this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, we’ve been running a number of features incorporating this year’s nominees. As an extension of this, we’ll be taking a look at what the paper had to say about the productions and people involved in each category when the curtain went up.
Brian O’Connell recently spoke to the four nominees in the best actor category. If you missed it, you can read what they had to say for themselves over here. (more…)