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  • The free jam in the doughnut of the 12 Points jazz festival

    February 12, 2013 @ 6:15 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Tomorrow sees the start of the 12 Points jazz festival, which this year is back in its regular Dublin home at the Project Arts Centre.

    From Wednesday until Saturday, 12 new bands from across Europe will be bossing the stage of the Project, and tomorrow I’ll have a preview of the festival, and an article on the challenges of being alternative in music. Later in the week I’ll also have live reviews of each gig.

    One of the key elements of the festival, for me, takes place outside of the Project – the free-jam improvisation sessions (and no, we’re not talking complimentary conserves). Once each night’s concerts have finished, usually around the 10.30pm mark, most of the festival’s musicians will decamp to the Sweeney Mongrel on Dame Street for an open-music session. Each night a different local band will get things warmed up before the 12 Points players join in and really get things cooking. (Tickets for these events are available from staff at the main 12 Points gigs in the Project.)

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  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . find some farm love

    February 7, 2013 @ 5:31 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Looking for love: Des Keogh has been touring his one-man show, The Love-Hungry Farmer, for the best part of a decade, and it’s easy to see why. He brings five decades worth of experience to bear in what is a a deft and demanding piece of theatre for the performer, but an effortlessly enjoyable one for the audience. For almost two hours, he takes John B Keane’s words and weaves a wandering story that is tight with humour, and edged in sadness and regret. The play is rooted in our national pastime of storytelling, relies completely on our fondness for a tale well told, and is unapologetic in its rough-hewn, rural approach – and it is all the better for it. The result is a charming celebration of a type of theatre that used to be as common as a lovelorn farmer, but is now rarer than a fine Irish summer. It’s at the Gaiety until Saturday.

    My mate Dan: Doesn’t Dan Deacon seem like the soundest fella you could ever happen to come across? He has eight albums released on loads of labels, a penchant for wool hats and voluminous beards, a live show that relies as much on the audience getting stuck in as it does on his electronic trickery, and, if all else fails, he can always fall back on that classical background of his. He’s currently touring his new album for Domino Records, being sound all over the place and getting loads of critics telling him he’s deadly. Which he is. And he’s playing Whelan’s on Saturday. What a ledge. Go on Dan, I’ll buy you a pint.

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  • Inject a bit of drama into your life with these short acting courses

    February 6, 2013 @ 10:59 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Here’s a selection of short courses for acting and production for theatre, film and television. It barely scratches the surface of what’s out there so feel free to leave any other pointers in the comments section.

    Louis Lovett will lead a five-day practical workshop for professional actors, from February 18th to 22nd, in the Abbey Theatre. The closing date for applications is this Friday, February 8th. Applicants should send a CV, headshot and a brief note outlining why you want to participate to jeanine@theatrelovett.com. The cost is a measly €25. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend: make a mixtape

    January 31, 2013 @ 8:39 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Old school dance: We love to see a bit of ambition in a show, taking on a mammoth project with a slim chance of success and requiring the kind of production values that would have Sisyphus calling his union representatives. So hats off to the Loose Collective who, on Saturday night for one night only, will attempt to adapt the entire Old Testament (that’s the good one with all the fire and brimstone bits – speaking of which, when’s the last time you came across a bit of brimstone) into one dance show.

    Oh, and the show will also use text-sampling, beat-boxing and choir singing to keep things moving and bring those Bible verses to life. Go along dressed as your favourite Old Testament character or as one of Noah’s animals. There’s no reason to, I’d just like to see the look on their faces if they turned up to a room full of Moses. Click here for more information.

    Dig it: Martin McDonagh has half of Hollywood eating out of his hand, and the divisive Seven Psychopaths means he’s now being talked about more than ever. But the true measure of his cloth is to be found in the theatre, and here’s a timely reminder why. A Skull in Connemara is the second play in his Lennane trilogy, falling between The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West, and focuses on a gravedigger doing the grisly task of digging up his wife (who he may have helped put in the ground in the first place, in more ways than one). Decadent Theatre have put together a rich cast, with John Olohan, Frankie McCafferty and Brid Ni Neachtain. It previews in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway from tomorrow (Friday). (more…)

  • A music and video reminder of Body and Soul’s brilliant Upstage

    January 30, 2013 @ 6:56 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    February is almost here (hurrah!) and while plenty of other people have been erroneously celebrating the end of winter, I’ve been keeping myself warm by sitting close to the soothing glow of my laptop screen and looking at what’s coming up at this year’s festivals. Despite Jim Carroll’s reservations, I reckon Primavera Sound’s line-up is stellar, and after Sunday night’s shenanigans it would be nearly worth the ticket price alone to see Matthew E White again.

    While having a root down the back of the festival couch, I noticed that Body and Soul’s early-bird tickets have sold out – not bad considering the festival has yet to announce a line-up. But giving how much fun last year’s masked spectacular in Ballinlough Castle was, I can’t imagine there won’t be hundreds of repeat offenders making the trip to Meath. (more…)

  • Live review: Matthew E White

    @ 11:41 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Whelan’s, Dublin

    The next time you’re having an argument with, say, your father, and he says “They don’t make music like they used to,” send him Matthew E White’s way.

    White’s bewildering debut has been getting glorious reviews and it’s little wonder – he recorded it in just seven days but it sounds like an album that was a lifetime in the making. Big Inner is seven gorgeously textured, intricate songs, crafted with the kind of fire in the belly that any fine Virginian preacher would be proud of. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . go traditional

    January 24, 2013 @ 6:54 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Tradition edition: Temple Bar Trad Fest is preparing to sign off in fine, raucous style this weekend. Tonight, the highlight is at the Button Factory where Teada, featuring Seamus Begley, headlines a roster of acts that includes Aoife Scott, Perfect Friction and Truancy. Tomorrow night, Stephen Rea will launch the West Ocean String Quartet’s new album, An Indigo Sky, with Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill also on the roster to perform Neil Martin’s song cycle Oileán na Marbh, at St Werburgh’s Church. On Sunday, the inimitable Sharon Shannon will be celebrating her 21st anniversary with Irish music (no, we can’t make head nor tail of that one either), with a concert at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Expect her to call in more than a few favours for guest appearances to get the party properly rolling. (And if you do find yourself in that part of town, make sure to spare some time for a pint in Fallon’s, one of the finest pubs in all of Dublin town.)

    Well all White then: He’s big dude with a big beard and an album on Domino that is picking up more stars than a black hole on tour. And on Sunday, Matthew E White will be bringing his country soul shadings to Whelan’s in Dublin. He recorded his debut in seven days, and it’s got the kind of texture and depth that usually takes years to perfect, so there’s little doubt that Mr White is the real deal. He’ll soon be playing much bigger venues than this, so take this rare opportunity to see the man on his way up, and experience a little bit of special Americana soul of a Sunday.

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  • 12 Points line-up and a playlist to get you started

    January 23, 2013 @ 5:14 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    The 12 Points festival for young European jazz artists is back in Dublin this year, after last year’s stint in Porto, and the organisers have just announced the line-up.

    It takes place from February 13th to 16th, with a concert each night in the Project Arts Centre, Dublin, featuring three of the selected artists from 12 European cities. Each night also ends with a free jam session (that’s also free in), which can sometimes turn into the best concert of the evening.

    Tickets are €12-15 per night, or there are a limited number of festival passes for €40 – that’s less than €3.33 a band for a line-up with one local act. Is this the best value small festival there is?

    After the jump is the line-up and videos of each act to get a flavour of what to expect, and click here for coverage of last year’s festival. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … go to war with a professional

    January 17, 2013 @ 9:00 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Conflicting views: There are people in this world who are drawn to war, and I’m not talking about mercenaries. There are those who seek out the world’s hotspots and combat zones, to experience and to report where the rest of us mere mortals would fear to tread. (Photographer Anthony Lloyd captures this perplexing obsession in the brilliant My War Gone By, I Miss It So, where each time he leaves his warzone in the Balkans he slips back into heroin addiction.)

    Don McCullin is one such conflicted soul. He served in the RAF during the Suez Crisis, and it was her that he learned the darkroom arts. From the 1960s on he began working as a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times, with much of his work capturing the horror and ravages of war, rather than any glorification of it. He claims that it was for this reason that he was refused a press pass to cover the Falklands War. His pictures, from the likes of Biafra, the Lebanon, Cyprus and Vietnam, have in some cases come to be among the defining images for their respective conflicts.

    A shellshocked soldier photographed by Don McCullin in Vietnam

    David and Jacqui Morris have made a documentary about McCullin in which he talks frankly and honestly about his career in the frontlines. Among the contributors are Harold Evans, his former boss at the Sunday Times and a man regarded as perhaps the best editor in the business. The film is at the Lighthouse Cinema this weekend. Judging by the trailer, it’s unmissable.

    Northern sounds: When asked what country is at the cutting edge of music, Norway might not be near the top of your list – but you’d be wrong. The country that gave us A Ha and Royksopp has a musical folk heritage that’s bewildering in its scale, and when it comes to alternative and experimental music, particularly in jazz, there is no finer European pedigree – check out Arve Henriksen and Tord Gustavsen for a taste of something very different indeed.

    Rebekka Karijord is one such individual. Born in Lofoten and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, she’s a relative unknown in Ireland, but happily that might be about tho change. Her vocal has more than a touch of the type of purity you find with a Cocteau Twin, if a little more country in tone, and her songs are shot through with the sort of dark seam familiar to Tori Amos fans. Her recordings themselves also sound beautiful. There’s a gorgeous earthy richness to much of the ensemble’s sound – listen to the percussive string heavy thrum of Undo Love for a particularly effective sample. Tomorrow night, she’s bringing her singular sound to the Workman’s Club. Miss this one, and miss out on something very special indeed.

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  • Theatre Forum’s public vote for the Irish Times Theatre Awards

    January 16, 2013 @ 5:07 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    On Saturday, we revealed the short list for this year’s Irish Times Theatre Awards, and the three judges – Sinéad Mac Aodha, Damian Downes and John Fairleigh – gave a little bit of detail on how they’ve arrived at their final few.

    The smart folk over at Theatre Forum Ireland have put our shortlist up on their site for a public vote – this vote has nothing to do with the awards themselves (this isn’t poX-factor after all), and will not affect the final vote. But it was really interesting last year to see how the final votes tallied up with the judges’ verdict – in the end, Theatre Forum’s public vote matched our judges’ decisions more than 50 per cent of the time. Of the 13 categories, seven of the Theatre Forum picks were the same as the actual winners. (more…)

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