Sofar Sounds @ The Village Hall, Cork 6 May 2016

sofar sounds cork
Photo by Shane J Horan
All photography by Shane J Horan.

Three Surprise Acts In A Secret Location In Cork.

Do you what Sofar Sounds is and how it works? No? Well, you are in for a treat. Essentially, it aims to bring the live music experience to artists and fans in unique and intimate settings. All a music lover need do is sign up on the Sofar website. Then they can browse Sofar events in their locality and apply to go to those events. A day or two before the event they will be emailed the gig time and the venue. It is pretty awesome in its simplicity and DIY ethos.

Tonight’s event is the third Sofar Sounds gig in Cork. However, it is both Overblown’s first Sofar gig and our first time in the delightful Village Hall. The venue is a recently opened coffee shop/thrift store with wonderfully intimate alcoves along each wall in which one could hide among the smell of fine coffee and second-hand books for hours. Apparently, there’s also a community space upstairs. Tonight it is the ideal setting for three surprise acts from around Cork. Did we mention that the acts are not publicised before the gig? This little bit of the unknown is one of our favourite things about Sofar Sounds. We miss the mystic that music once possessed.

Sofar Sounds Cork
Photograph by Shane J Horan

Folk singer/songwriter Cara Kursh is first to take the make-shift stage (which is oddly reminiscient of Nirvana’s stage during their legendary Unplugged performance). Sofar Sounds organiser Cormac Daly introduces her as a singer that has a voice capable of silencing a pub. He’s not wrong. Kursh’s voice is one of those that is simultaneously delicate and empowering. It’s a powerful and precise instrument that ebbs and flows with depth and emotion while winding its way around the singer’s melodies deftly. Her songs are simple compositions and deeply personal and while sometimes they can be somewhat trite, they show potential for Cara to become songwriter and performer on the level of Lisa Hannigan. Cara Kursh is on the cusp.

Follow Cara Kursh on Facebook.

Sofar Sounds Cork
Photograph by Shane J Horan.

Apparently in around two months guitar virtuoso Yuichiro Takahashi is intending to return to his native Japan. We are not exaggerating to say that this means that Cork, if not Ireland, will be losing one of its most accomplished and innovative guitarists. On stage, Takahashi strikes an unassuming and humble figure. He’s soft spoken with a tendency to let his curls fall over his face and avoid making eye contact with the reverent crowd. With his ever reliable loop pedal and various guitar effects he creates a sound that is more or less the modern version of a one man band.  Nearby, we hear a a person whisper that he plays music that one should either come up to or utilise to mellow a come down. That’s a pretty apt summation. Listening to Takahashi  is a mesmerising and hypnotic journey. We implore you to spend the next couple of months attempting to find a way, any way, to witness this unique performer before he returns from whence he came.

Sofar Sounds Cork
Photograph by Shane J Horan

We’ve seen a lot of things over here at Overblown towers, however, we had never seen a musician solve a rubix cube in the duration of a short jazz and chamber music influenced folk song before. That is until we witnessed singer songwriter Sam Clague and his band. During one number, ‘Melted Butter’ we believe, Clague’s violinist takes the opportunity to elegantly and adeptly solve a rubix cube with absolute ease. The song is only about two minutes long. That’s impressive. Clague’s music is equally as impressive. His virtuosic guitar playing is wonderfully intricate, while his voice is lilting and his lyrics poetic. He’s akin to some kind of mixture between Tommy Emmanuel and Simon & Garfunkel. This Clague kid is destined for big things.

Follow Sam Clague on Facebook.

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