Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Banter’s little acorns and all of that

It was a pretty damn busy weekend in the world of Banter. We started out on Saturday night with the Sonar Story with Enric Palau and Georgia Taglietti from the Barcelona-based electronic music and arts festival yakking about the event’s …

Tue, May 3, 2011, 09:30


It was a pretty damn busy weekend in the world of Banter. We started out on Saturday night with the Sonar Story with Enric Palau and Georgia Taglietti from the Barcelona-based electronic music and arts festival yakking about the event’s past, present and future. They talked about how the festival’s night-time base grew from a 1,200 capacity hall (the downtown Apollo) to a venue which holds 20,000 (Gran Via) in the space of a few years, the economic impact study which showed that Sonar is now worth €48 million annually to Barcelona, their scouting methods for new music and their recent expansion to A Coruna. Big thanks to Enric and Georgia for coming to town and to everyone at Bodytonic (especially Eoin) for looking after this one.

On Sunday afternoon, it was a Banter Uptown session at Mindfield where The End Of Pop Culture discussion featured Todd Zuniga, Nathan Rabin, Una Mullally and myself as the chief mourners pouring over the ashes. This freewheeling, wide-ranging eulogy referenced (deep breath) John Morley (the one-time Chief Secretary for Ireland who was the first to mention popular culture in an 1876 speech), R, Kelly, Odd Future, Black Eyed Peas, Community, Youtube videos of cats, authenticity, irony, short attention spans, Bosco, Twink, Dan Charnas’ The Big Payback, Weird Al Yankovic, Timothy Leary, Shaun Dunne’s Homebird and much, much more. It was also the only Banter to date which featured (a) Shane McGowan in the audience heckling panelists by singing The Village People’s “In the Navy” and (b) a bunch of children running around the place (which certainly cut down on the amount of cussing and swearing from the stage). If you weren’t there, you missed one hell of a do. And no, I don’t think it was recorded (sometimes you just have to be there). Thanks to Todd, Nathan and Una for their superb contributions and to Derek, Naoise and everyone at Mindfield for inviting us to Merrion Square.

We’ve had a swell time at Banter over the last couple of months with some great, memorable discussions on everything from the future of media to climate change. Banter was set up in July 2009 when Trev from Bodytonic approached me with an idea to make use of some space in the Twisted Pepper and it really has become something else, something which none of us involved in it ever thought it would or could be.

Proof of this comes with an email from Caroline Duke (who posts on OTR on occasions) and Natasha Duffy about Spirit of Folk, a festival they’re going to be doing at Dunderry Park, Co Meath from September 23 to 25. It’s a folk festival which means you’ve acts like Gay Woods, the superb Lisa O’Neill, Rob Cunningham, Fiach, The Young Folk, Owensie and St John the Gambler on the bill. This new boutique festival will also feature “archery, falconry, battle re-enactments, storytelling in a candle lit kern, burning effigies, medieval games, fireworks, community games as well as a Mind, Body, Soul area and Ceili Mor”.

The reason why we’re talking about Spirit of Folk here is because Caroline and Nathasa were at the Banter session last September on The Ins and Outs of Running an Irish Festival, with Castlepalooza’s Cillian Stewart and Earagail Arts Festival’s Paul Brown, and this gave them the final push to do their own event. As Caroline explains, “myself and Natasha attended your Banter talk last year which gave us the courage to put our ideas into motion. Hearing particulary Cillian’s story cemented our belief it could be done but its taken a lot of hard work and guts to get this far”. Both of them know that it’s tough out there – especially this summer, when there seems to be a new small festival happening every weekend between now and September – but they’re prepared to give it a go so best of luck of them. There were also others in the audience that night who were talking about mooted events and festivals and I’d like to hear from them if they went ahead with their plans.

Another Banter-related plug is for For Food’s Sake. After Well Done Steak, the Banter chat on Irish food in January, a bunch of food writers and bloggers got together to put on their own bi-monthly food session which, For Food’s Sake mover and shaker Aoife Carrigy says very kindly, “was inspired by and spawned from Banter”. The topic for the next For Food’s Sake is “Are Irish restaurants up the swanny?” and it happens on May 26 at the Sugar Club, Dublin with panelists Paul Cadden (Saba, president of the Restaurant Association of Ireland), Caroline Byrne (Dublin editor of the Bridgestone Guide), Joe Macken (dude behind JoBurger and Crackbird, who made a guest stage invasion at the Banter session on new businesses in March) and guests. There will also be a bunch of food testings from Irish producers. And again, best of luck to them.

One more Banter session to come before the summer break so stay tuned for details, yakking fans.