Body & Soul: Six acts not to miss
The Irish Times and Wonderlust will be hosting your Saturday afternoon
Shookrah: satin-smooth sound
The Irish festival season is a cage fight each year, as dozens of events battle for your money, time off work, and limited tolerance of the sun. Only one, though, calls itself an otherworldly realm.
Body & Soul has its ethos burned right into the handle. The laid-back Ballinlough Castle jamboree offers an eclectic mix of art, music and performance. Here are six acts and events we’re hoping to catch.
Shookrah’s satin-smooth sound is like an old-school Chevy Impala with silk tyres and suede seats. The Cork band cut spotless summer-night R&B, when no beer is too cold, or session too late, and even sunburn can’t kill the vibe.
Released just last month, the group’s EP Clichés encapsulates their sparkle. The rhythm section’s jazzy grooves offer a snappy bedrock for Senita Appiakorang’s soulful yet forceful voice.
Elsewhere, the nasty guitar lines and hot brass of the older track Woman underpin an empowerment anthem that would sway Patti LaBelle.
Katie Laffan’s eccentric funk and easy-to-dance-to rhythms channel classic 1970s disco without sounding overly indebted to any particular artist. Instead the Dubliner stamps a distinct imprint on her work. Young talents don’t always arrive so fully formed.
I Don’t Mind sees Laffan, who is barely in her 20s, interlocking her offbeat vocals with a rubbery bass line, funky guitar stabs and peppy drums. The digital strings of the yearning ballad Trophy find the singer laying out the story of a fracturing relationship, revealing a more solemn side to her songwriting.
Ahmed Gallab melds fragments of sub-Saharan pop, blaxploitation funk, shoegaze, Afro-rock, Krautrock and the spirit of Bill Withers into a blend that the London-born Sudanese artist somehow makes sense of.
The dinky arrangements of Sinkane’s earlier work were charming, but after a tough gigging schedule Gallab has evolved into more of a bandleader on his lush recent album, Life & Livin’ It. Expect a set of bright bluster, catchy choruses and enough sunny positivity to melt the 99 flake right out of your hand.
Idiotape’s arrangements scorch like a fireball of electronic energy. The South Korean electronic trio’s heavy synth-driven rhythms draw from the gaudy glamorama of 1980s electropop and 1990s 16-bit gaming soundtracks, with a dollop of classic Korean rock mixed in too. And as something extra to look out for, Idiotape have been known to slide a battering electro version of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage into their sets. Protect your eardrums.
Forget the bands: there won’t be many at Body & Soul who can match Fred Cooke’s energy. The wild-man comedian has been on the circuit for years, polishing a funny mix of brash storytelling, lively physicality and weird-as-hell acoustic-guitar songwriting.
The Irish Times and Wonderlust
Self-promotion is terribly undignified, which is why we’re going to do it only this once. The Irish Times is coming together with the Wonderlust stage for Saturday-afternoon talks and discussions that will cut into the nucleus of media, politics and culture, and where the three intersect.
They’ll include The Walk of Shame, a special edition of the Women’s Podcast with host Kathy Sheridan, comedian Erin McGathy, TD Brid Smith and abortion rights campaigner Lucy Watmough. Music will be supplied by Mongoose. Irish Times journalist Simon Carswell is chairing Time to Resist?, a talk about Trump, Brexit and the right; Arts Editor Laurence Mackin moderating a discussion of Culture Ireland with John Concannon; and Patrick Freyne, the DJ Sally Cinnamon and the comedian Alison Spittle presenting The Hack of Ireland, a look at the unstoppable forces and immovable objects of Irish culture, such as country and western music, the Rose of Tralee and The Late Late Show.