From ChoiceCuts to Choice Music Prize: the best rock and pop this week

Willy Mason, Elli Ingram, Mahalia, Mount Alaska, Lukas Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Search Party Animal and David Kitt lead the pack. Plus: International Women’s Day Weekender

Willy Mason
Connolly's Of Leap, Co Cork, Saturday March 3rd, 8pm, €16.50
Róisín Dubh, Galway, Sunday March 4th, 8pm, €15
Lantern Bar, Navan, Co Meath, Monday March 5th, 9pm, €15
Sandinos, Derry, Wednesday March 7th, 9pm, £13
Grand Social, Dublin, Thursday March 8th, 8pm, €15

Martha's Vineyard singer-songwriter Willy Mason can thank his folk artist parents (Jemima James and Michael Mason) for his love of the genre, but he can also thank Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana for inspiring him to write lyrics that he more studiously identified with. Although in his early 30s, Mason has been around longer than you think. An early association in his teens with Conor Oberst led to the release in 2004 of his debut album, while subsequent touring with the likes of Rosanne Cash, Beth Orton and Jenny Lewis honed his performing skills. A vastly underrated songwriter who rarely visits Ireland, Mason starts a nationwide tour on Saturday which concludes on Saturday March 10th with a gig in Dolan's, Limerick. Highly recommended.

BBE/ChoiceCuts Presents: Beyond Addis feat Ernesto Chahoud & JJ Whitefield
The Sugar Club, Dublin, Saturday March 3rd, €10 online/€12.50 on door

Using only 7-inch records, the Beirut-based DJ Ernesto Chahoud will be playing a selection of soul-infused songs that soundtracked the dance floors of Addis Ababa in the 1970s, songs that helped create what he calls the golden age of Ethiopian music. Support comes from JJ Whitefield, a member of The Poets of Rhythm, and he will offer up some tunes of the funk and Afrobeat persuasion.


Whelan's, Dublin, Sunday March 4th, 8pm, €16 (sold out)

Welcome to the new normal of musicians. The primary inspiration of this Texan trio (Laura Lee, Mark Speer, Donald "DJ" Johnson) is derived from traditional Asian/Middle Eastern folk/pop music, dub and Thai funk, with the latter itself influenced by (believe it or not) early 1960s UK instrumental group The Shadows. Following their sold-out show at smaller Dublin venue, The Workman's Club, some time back, the band return with a new album under the belt – Con Todo el Mundo, which, says the Los Angeles Times, "is a border-blurring convergence, one likely to propel whatever dance floor is lucky enough to receive it". You have been duly advised.

Majid Jordan
The Academy, Dublin Sunday March 4 €26

Majid Jordan is one of the many young and invigorating R&B acts signed to Drake's OVO Sound label. Consisting of Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman, the Canadian outfit has worked behind the scenes co-producing Drake's Hold On, We're Going Home and Mine, his 2013 Beyoncé collaboration. While they earned their stripes early on with sophisticated songwriting and production for others, their own music is minimalistic and effortlessly cool.

The Workman's Club, Dublin, Tuesday March 6th, 8pm, €22

Genuinely, folks, it isn't often that you get to see a Grammy-nominated hip-hop music act in such a small venue, but North Carolina-born Marlanna Evans is exactly that. Her album, Laila's Wisdom (nominated for best rap album), certainly brought her to greater mainstream prominence, but genre fans would already have known her style, sass and classy delivery from collaborations with the likes of Anderson .Paak, Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane and Kendrick Lamar.

Grand Social, Dublin, Wednesday March 7th, 8pm, €15

Little has been seen or heard from this teenage Leicester singer since she performed a stunner of a gig at Other Voices in Dingle in the winter of 2015. She has, however, been busy in the recording studio preparing her major label debut and honing influences that range from Lauryn Hill to Erykah Badu. This year looks set to be her breakout one, so watching her rise to the occasion in such a fine, intimate venue will be a memory to hold onto. Expect excellent old-school R&B/hip-hop with a classy, psych-soul edge.

Elli Ingram
Whelan's Upstairs, Dublin, Wednesday March 7th, 8pm, €14.35

Five years is a long time to be hanging around the fringes, but 20-something Elli Ingram has such natural talent that only a fool would bet against her striking it rich both creatively and commercially. It started more than five years ago, of course, as Ingram’s R&B vocals drifted melodically throughout her teens, causing her to be regularly compared to the likes of Angie Stone, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu. Such reference points also caused her to nab various “best newcomer” nominations, which enhanced her reputation as one to watch. It is interesting to note, by the way, that Ingram performs in Dublin on the same night as Mahalia – it has been a while since two highly tipped UK female singers played in Dublin at the same time. That last happened in 2008, when Adele and Duffy visited the city. Just saying.

Ban Ban
The Sugar Club, Dublin, Wednesday March 7th, €10 + booking fee

With all profits going to Inner City Helping Homeless and MyNameIs, the charity raising money to tackle child homelessness, this International Women’s Day event is a mix of academia and music and will examine how far Irish women have come since smashing the windows at Dublin Castle. Musical entertainment will come from fierce women Farah Elle, Everything Shook and Joni, and speakers include, but are not limited to, the Green Party’s Catherine Martin, Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell and Senator Ivana Bacik.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
Whelan's, Dublin, Wednesday March 7th, 8pm, €22.90

As his father, Willie Nelson, continues to contribute to the rich fabric of country music, son Luke forges his own career with Promise of the Real (POTR). Since forming 10 years ago, POTR have made significant inroads to commercial success, not least through their association with Neil Young (a pivotal influence), with whom they have collaborated on two studio albums (2015's The Monsanto Years and 2017's The Visitor). This year will see Nelson's profile rise even higher through his work on yet another remake of the movie A Star is Born. Nelson has written songs for the movie, directed by and co-starring Bradley Cooper, as well as co-written material with co-star Stefani Germanotta aka Lady Gaga.

RTÉ Choice Music Prize
Vicar Street, Dublin, Thursday March 8th €28

Choice night is like Christmas for Irish music fans. While the judges are locked away in a room debating who should win album of the year, we get to enjoy live performances from nominees Come On Live Long, Marlene Enright, Fangclub, Lankum, James Vincent McMorrow, New Jackson, Otherkin, Fionn Regan, Ships and Talos. The winner will be announced on the night, along with the winner of the RTÉ Choice Song of the Year, which is based on a public vote.

International Women's Day Weekender
The Bernard Shaw, Dublin, Thursday March 8th, Adm free

In honour of International Women’s Day, The Bernard Shaw is hosting some of the best women involved in spoken word, art, graffiti and music to entertain, run workshops and to celebrate some deadly mots. On Friday evening, Vickey Curtis, Clara Rose Thornton and others will recite poetry and spoken word. DIP’s Cait Fahy will tend to your music needs on Friday night and, on Saturday, Belfast’s Venus Dupree (from GIRL Collective) will step in for a special guest set.

Country to Country
3Arena, Dublin, Friday March 9th-Sunday March 11th, 4pm, €149.50 (weekend)/€60.50 (day)

For all that’s said about the love of country music in Ireland, questions will have to be asked as to why Emmylou Harris is second on a line-up – and not a headline act – during this three-day hoedown. Emmylou’s music is perhaps too subtle, too worn and world-weary for tastes that veer closer to Kacey Musgraves (who headlines Friday), Little Big Town (who headline Saturday), and Faith Hill & Tim McGraw (who co-headline Sunday), but there is still a case to be made for her county music coronation. Other preferred acts on the line-up include Kip Moore (Friday), Margo Price (Saturday) and Kelsea Ballerini (Sunday). Harris performs Saturday – a class act 45 years ago and a class act now.

Homebeat & Note Productions Present : Mount Alaska
Fumbally Stables, Dublin, Friday March 9th, 8pm €12 online/€15 on door

Dublin duo Stephen Shannon and Cillian McDonnell’s electronic act Mount Alaska is a relatively new collaboration between the former Halfset members, and they’re bringing a special set to this BYOB event in the Fumbally Stables. Support on the night is from Teatro Sin Fin, a new electro-acoustic venture by Thomas Haugh and Matthew Nolan. There is a strict 11pm curfew.

Search Party Animal
Whelan's, Dublin, Friday March 9th, 8pm, €15.35

Ah, youth – where is it when you need it? Actually, it’s right here and right now in the shape of Search Party Animal, a five-piece band from Dundrum, Dublin. The lads were early starters, having been involved in performing from their early teens, but they quickly shed whatever naivety they had by delivering music influenced by the likes of Irish bands Enemies, Two Door Cinema Club, and – perhaps the most relevant reference point – And So I Watch You From Afar.

David Kitt
Cleere's Theatre, Kilkenny, Friday March 9th, 8pm, €15

With an integral side project album under the guise of New Jackson – on the nominated list for Thursday's RTÉ Choice Music Prize– and a broad range of production and collaborative work going on, it is really gratifying to see David Kitt on the up and up. This week also sees his latest solo album, Yous, being more widely issued than on its barely-there release over a year ago. In a live context, Kitt delivers music that gradually locks you in its grip. His countrywide tour continues into April, concluding with gigs at the Button Factory, Dublin, on April 6th, and Spirit Store, Dundalk, Co Louth, on April 8th.