No more rock shandy


IT SEEMS a shame that Irish rock events are fuelled to such a huge extent by alcohol. Drinks companies are now getting serious about rock sponsorship, and Irish brewers and distillers are listening out for the sounds of electric guitars, because that's where their target market is now most likely to be. Heineken is probably the biggest sponsor in Irish rock at the moment, and Murphy's Brewery, which distributes the Dutch lager in Ireland, has underwritten such successful events as the Heineken Rollercoaster Tour, the Heineken Weekender and the Heineken Hot Press Awards. Rock audiences are generally young and sociable, and Heineken targets them at grassroots level by supporting local rock bands and sponsoring local events.

This Easter weekend the brand hosts the Heineken Howth Jazz Festival, which features a mix of jazz, blues and rock acts, including Rob Strong, The Legendary Hoods, Paddy Cole and British band Corduroy. The May Day Bank Holiday weekend (May 3rd to May 5th) offers quite a cocktail of rock sponsorship, with major events in Galway, Dublin and Limerick taking place under different brand labels. The Heineken Green Festival gets under way in Dublin with top international acts such as Lou Reed, Goldie and Orbital headlining, while Budweiser will be strengthening its American identity via the Budweiser Rhythm, Roots and Country Festival, featuring top yank acts k.d. lang and Steve Earle, along with Irish band The Corrs. Finally, in Limerick, Irish Distillers gets behind the Paddy Music Expo, an intensive weekend of concerts, street entertainment, showcase gigs and a battle of the bands.