IRELAND’S largest broadcaster platforms some of the best talent in the country this week whilst fringe genres get their yearly time in the sun as the festival season hits its peak.
Under the curation of industry publicist and professional, Suzanne Doyle, RTÉ premiered a new television show earlier this week, the first of six in total, titled The Main Stage.
Following the few years of pandemonium (and some, in my opinion, troubling decisions that adversely affected music creators in this country from the national broadcaster), independent artists had a tough time with self and industry promotion.
This new show, presented by R&B singer-songwriter Erica-Cody and The Coronas’ Danny O’Reilly, takes up a prime-time slot at 9.35 pm on the upcoming Fridays and platforms some of our best and brightest. With an opening night all-star cast that featured Villagers, Rejjie Snow, Lyra and others, it’s a really positive step forward for RTÉ to dedicate airtime to celebrating our musicians on a national stage. Upcoming episodes will have features from the likes of Damien Dempsey, The Scratch, Tolü Makay, James Vincent McMorrow and more.
Derry festival Celtronic proceeded without a hitch, presenting citizens of the maiden city with a jam-packed lineup of electronic artists from near and far across multiple venues, whilst All Together Now in the south announced a breakdown of acts and days that heavily features Irish talent. This comes on the heels of the advent of the Stendhal Festival last week, which had its largest booking of Northern talent in recent years performing to crowds of 8,000. It’s a positive trend all around for Irish tastemakers, one in which writers and producers from all backgrounds, genres and creeds continue to be celebrated on the main stages. Long may it reign.
On that note, in March we reported on a new award set up to provide much-needed funds for groups and individuals from the Music Capital scheme to procure new instruments. With gigs being the main source of income for the average practitioner, this was an essential investment for artists who will go on to record and perform some excellent original pieces. A total of €306,096 was awarded this year, divided between 28 non-professional performing groups (a total of €165,156), 18 individual talented musicians (a total of €100,940), as well as nine emerging professional performing musicians (a total of €40,000), such as Niamh Regan and Christopher Cole.
And to end this week's column, we once again turn our spotlight on some of the best independent releases of the week. With so many bands engaged in the festival circuit, it was a quiet seven days number wise but the quality was as high as ever. Whether it's the grinding, confrontational noise-punk of M(h)aol’s ‘Bored Of Men’ or the shimmering piano ballad of Brighton-based Dubliner Matt Taylor’s ‘no matter what i say’, we always find a way to deliver. The two standouts this week, however, both live in separate worlds. Farah Elle, who we covered in columns past thanks to her stunning debut ‘Play It By Ear, has returned with the luminescent and visually stunning ‘Desert’. A keys-led arrangement that’s initially populated with sparse vocal arrangements before crescendoing into a flood of electro-pop and harmonising howls, it's a definite departure from her debut and a stunning track from start to finish.
And to finish we have a great collaboration. 'Without You’ comes from Finnian and Ciaran Lavery and has a low-slung velvet country vibe. With a backline that's all loose acoustics and lo-fi percussion, the gentle vocals of Lavery and Finnian drape over the arrangement gracefully and without a demand. A fantastic result from the two songwriters.