YOU might approach your local watering hole this week to meet up with some friends you’ve not seen in a while and be greeted by the sound of glorious, thunderous, real music. You might find yourself thinking “Wow, the Assembly finally got off their hands and provided some concrete advice for establishments regarding the return of working musicians!” You’d be wrong. Remember folks, Spotify playlists on a PA = good. Letting human beings who have been out of work for over a year return = bad. Glad I cleared that up.
In the meantime, a number of huge pilot events in the south of the island signal a resounding return for the events industry. Early reports promise little but indicate that a huge number of patrons will soon be able to engage in our nation’s favourite cultural pastime. A fully-seated music festival in Phoenix Park that will play host to 3,600, further outdoor seated events that will host up to 500 ticket holders and indoor shows in Killarney, Galway and Cork are all on the table. Despite earlier speculations,the word on the street is vaccinations are not a prerequisite to attend these events, which will only speed up our return to normal.

These standalone events are not the only ones to be announced this week either, with a plethora of independent promoters and shows finally hitting their rescheduled dates. Rock Against Homelessness, the premiere music charity that tackles the homeless issue, announce a pre-recorded return that can be enjoyed from the comfort of the home. Filmed primarily in the Olympia Theatre and Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin (as well as Mexico and New York – the wonders of modern streaming), the show will feature the likes of Pillow Queens, Aslan, Wyvern Lingo, Ryan McMullan and more, with proceeds going straight to Focus Ireland.
SoFFT Nights, a socially distant small festival, have also happily announced that their new dates (after cancelling in April), have been agreed for this July, August and September. After a string of successful shows from Paul Noonan, CMAT and Junior Brother last year, the organisers gained a cult following and their lineup this time around is a scorcher. Headlined by the likes of Lemoncello, Soda Blonde and Maija Sofia, these are must-see events that celebrate some of the best in independent music in Ireland. The summer is back in the Emerald Isle and the distant rumble of soundcheck and watery Harp in plastic cups is something that, we can all agree, is worth fighting for.
On the subject of supporting of independents, chart-topper and seemingly all-around good guy Dermot Kennedy has announced that he will be teaming up with BIMM Dublin for a special scholarship for new students. Ireland's top musical university announce that the ‘Dermot Kennedy scholarship’ will receive a one-year diploma that covers Songwriting, Vocals or Guitar plus performance opportunities and masterclasses – all of which will be paid for through Kennedy’s foundation.


And as always, we end the article with a spotlight on some of the best new releases from Irish artists. Producer extraordinaire Gaptoof (pictured above) announced this latest project last week – a mixtape of feature-heavy tracks that get even better the more you listen to them. A nuanced arranger and songwriter who loves hiding little found sounds and production tricks as sonic stowaways on his tracks, Gaptoof is easily one of my favourite and most interesting producers in Ireland. Check out his new release ‘Polymer’ wherever you get your music.
Similarly textured is the newest from St Bishop. An alt-pop savant with a flair for the dramatic, their newest track ‘Close’ is a vibrant tropical slice of pop that's ideal for the warmer nights we’re lucky enough to have. And finally, Pat Lagoon bares his fangs on his new single ‘Detox.’ With darker beats than his normal cabal, Lagoon isn’t afraid to flex lyrically on this one. Equal parts hype and swagger.