Other Voices Ballina: Dingle shindig decamps to Mayo
Gig of the Week: A merry gang of Irish and international artists go west for a weekend of music, food and discussion – and Ballina’s Food Fleadh will be in full swing too
Other Voices presenter MayKay and Westport singer-songwriter Maria Kelly in St Michael’s Church in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan
For the first time ever, the Other Voices crew and team are heading west to set up shop for the weekend of September 28th and 29th in Ballina, Co Mayo. Along with a merry gang of Irish and international artists – whose sole purpose is to entertain, enlighten and move you, both physically and intellectually – Other Voices will be filming some very special performances for their upcoming RTÉ series, hosted by MayKay and Huw Stephens, for the first time outside of their usual Dingle residence.
With Ballina’s St Michael’s Church hosting Maverick Sabre, Sam Fender, Villagers, Little Green Cars, Tamino, Julien Baker, Seamus Fogarty and Maria Kelly for the hushed televised performances and Mango x MathMan, Girlfriend, The Kerbs, I Have A Tribe, Heroes in Hiding, Toucan and Cult Called Man leading you along the Music Trail, this weekend shines the spotlight on both well-established names and new names that you should be adding to your Spotify playlists immediately. Other Voices is usually known for taking over Dingle during the first weekend in December but, in recent years, this unique music event has branched out from its modest 2002 beginnings in Dingle’s St James’s Church to be more accessible and inclusive to all music fans.
Known as a gathering and feeling a little bit like a musical pilgrimage more so than a music festival, Other Voices is no longer just an intimate gig with an even more intimate capacity in reverent surroundings; it has grown to encompass everything that its home for the weekend offers, from food to accommodation to the gargle; conveniently enough, Ballina’s Food Fleadh will be in full swing this weekend too.
Part of Other Voices’ expansion includes the Music Trail, which sees gigs sprawl into pubs, shops and restaurants all weekend long, and the Ireland’s Edge conference, where ideas, chats and heated discussions centre around our culture and its place in the world. This year’s Ireland’s Edge falls under the theme of “The Creative Space” and, using The Jackie Clarke Collection as a venue, scientists, innovators, designers, leaders in education, musicians and artists from Ballina will explore how their hometown will thrive in the future. Tickets for Ireland’s Edge: The Creative Space are €5 and they are available to buy on eventbrite.ie.
Celebrating the diversity of Irish nightlife, After Dark is a late-night venture curated by the This Greedy Pig collective. After Dark’s first outing took place last December in Dingle’s Hillgrove nightclub, and Ballina’s instalment will take place in Shore 59 on Friday and Saturday night, with tickets going for €10 each night, either on the door or from eventbrite.ie. Like the pied piper, the After Dark team’s mission is to lure the throngs from the pub to the dancefloor, which will be commandeered by house, techno and disco aficionados Colm K, Ian Duffy and Sally Cinnamon. The bops will be had until the very wee hours.
While tickets for the church performances will be distributed through giveaways in local and national media and online through Other Voices’ and local partners’ social media, registration for the festival itself is free on eventbrite.ie. Once you arrive in Ballina, you exchange your tickets for wristbands and they will give you entry to all of the Music Trail gigs. On top of that, your name will also be put into a draw for church tickets, so the potential of getting into the church isn’t too big a pipedream. Like Dingle, the gigs hosted by Other Voices Ballina give you a chance to explore the town through a fresh set of eyes as you hopscotch between venues, sampling tunes, meals, pints of the creamy stuff, new pals and new music to take home.