Townlands runs from 21st to 23rd July.
Multimedia and cross genre. That seems to be the mantra of the diverse and eclectic Townlands Carnival that has run since 2015 at Leades House in Macroom, Co Cork. An admirable goal that aims to break down musical barriers and focuses on inclusivity rather than segregation. When we head off to the festival this weekend, it will be our first time. We are damn excited and this is what we will definitely not be missing.
10. Stomptown Brass
This 10-piece urban street-funk band are a wonderful example of a group that can’t help but imbue their music and performances with dexterity and passion. Vigorous and elastic, their sound sits somewhere between the sweaty / sultry jazz of New Orleans and the emotionally hefty Delta blues. They’ll make you dance is what I’m saying.
Mixers of pop, R&B, and soul, Cork’s Shookrah are a distinctive example of a modern and multicultural Ireland. They aim to create music that is, “dark like Kendrick Lamar, sensual like Beyonce and badass like James Brown.” That is some goal. Determined to plough their own unusual musical course, they create a sound that is built around smooth live instrumentation and the soulful vocals of Senita Appiakorang. It’s an impressive and beautiful proposition.
8. Jack O’Rourke
Cork singer/songwriter Jack O’Rourke is a bit of a chameleon. Combining a late night piano jazz style that is often similar to a slightly more clean cut version of Tom Waits’ work in the 70’s with an orchestral rock style that combines theatrical arrangements with hook laden melodies, his debut album Dreamcatcher is an exploration in both the subtle and the dramatic. While the album is stellar, it is in the live setting where he really shines as the dignity and earnestness of his music is laid bare.
7. Art Installations
Townlands is generating a reputation for its art nearly as much as its music. Be prepared for the festival grounds to be transformed into a slightly surreal visual experience. Dream-like and otherworldly, you’ll feel you’ve gone a lot farther than Macroom for the experience. Without a doubt.
6. Le Boom
The thing is that I really love the minimal synth pop of Le Boom. Economical but hooky as hell, the duo craft a sound that is both restrained but still manages to burrow into your subconscious. They’re definitive evidence that a group does not have to pander to their audience and beat them around the head and face with over the top arrangements and obnoxious melody. They just leave you wanting more of their deft pop music.
Cork indie folk trio SILLK could literally have been created for Townlands. Combining what sounds to me to be akin to Balkan folk music with a knack for melody and Grimm Brothers-esque story telling, they are a wonderfully idiosyncratic, playful, and melodious proposition. Think Joanna Newsom if she had a wicked dark sense of humour and a lot more spring in her step.
4. Carnival Through The Ages
Its fancy dress. So get dressed up.
To be honest, you should never pass up a chance to see the Limerick comedy duo in the live setting. You’d think their shtick would have worn thin at this stage, but quite the opposite, it seems to have become more and more relevant as the years have passed. The trick is their combination of some heavy subject matter with an ability to never lose sight of the jokes. Having said that, ‘My Dad’s Best Friend’ is harrowing.
2. King Kong Company
Waterford electronica outfit King Kong Company are a fascinating group. Not content to simply create music that’s good for an old dance, they craft a distinctive take on electronic music that is most certainly song based and possesses a fair amount of social commentary. Our face is ‘Donkey Jaw’. We’ve all been there.
1. Jeru The Damaja
This is quite the coup. Jeru The Damaja is lauded as being as important to the East Coast hip hop scene as Nas and Wu Tang Clan. Despite this he doesn’t quite have the same profile. That’s unfortunate, but works to your benefit as you can catch one of the originators of modern East Coast hip hop in the relatively close climes of Macroom. Lucky you. And me.