Townlands Carnival 2016 Festival Review.

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8th – 10th July, Rusheen Farm, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland.

Friday 8th July.

We set off at 1 pm onward bound in Kevin’s camper for Townlands Carnival, a festival happening on Rusheen Farm near Macroom in County Cork, stopping off in Limerick to see a friend and get some beers and camping supplies.  We took the wrong road out of Limerick and got caught in a tailback for the good bones of an hour.  Back through Limerick we eventually saw a sign for Buttevant which was somewhere near the possible festival site but also avoided driving through Cork city as well.  I eventually got in touch with a friend already onsite as I was buying a ticket from them, they said either go for Mallow, Ballincollig, Macroom or Coachfoard, we chose the Coachford route as it was the only one that had a sign going to it, no Ballincollig, Macroom nor Mallow signs.  In fact quite  a majority of County Cork has no signs at all, leading to many WTFs!  When we eventually got to Coachfoard, the Centra dude directed us to the next village about 8 kilometres away, still no sign posts for this blasted festival and no idea where we were really, after driving through the first village and then a second village, I got Kevin to stop, ‘there is a pub’ I said, ‘I’ll ask there.’  The directions I got were to go right then take the left fifteen seconds later and then a right, I was warned it was steep so basically we were going up bumpy mountains.   Eventually we came to a sign on the other side of the road its back turned to us, I jumped out and had a look, Townlands Carnival Main Entrance and an arrow pointing down the road, it was just a matter of spotting the day glows of security and volunteers and we were there.  Woooo Hoooo!

By the time I had my tent up, wristbanded and cans of beer, clothes and camping necessaries together it had turned 10 pm, so we must of drove about in circles for about two hours or something, we did have a dinner and coffee break on the way as well, campers are great that way.

By the time we actually hit the arena it was 10.30 – 45 pm, so late enough for Friday’s proceedings but we did get to see a bit of Cork.  Just in time to catch the Jerry Fish closing set on the main stage.

Jerry Fish – Main Stage 11 pm.

Jerry has a gothy jangly thing going on in his music, definitely influenced at some point by Nick Cave, I only stayed for a few tracks as I was mad for exploring the place but the clip I recorded Hole in the Boat reminded me of the Cramps, Tom Waits and Screamin Jay Hawkins, punk psychobilly music, its sounds dated but at the same time twisted and new, Mr Fish and Cohorts sure put on a fine show.

I also wanted to take in a bit of festival scenery so took shots of the fake town come alive by projections, fantastically creative stuff, mesmerising to look at, a neon lit town centre with night clubs and bars, the only thing missing was door men.  Here is my suggestion Townlands for the craic, get some of the event security to dress up as doormen to make the night club thing more authentic, just for show, no ID asking or stuff like that.  This clip I’m posting, play it at a low volume as its atrociously loud in Samsung audio or even mute sound and take it in as a visual document.

Myself and Kevin wandered up to the top part of the site, this area had three stages, stalls, a Red Bull tent and most importantly, three portaloos.

Sim Simma Soundsystem were playing some nice roots reggae, hip hoppish, drum n bass and jungle sometimes and some of the coolest densest dub.  This was all happening in the Riddim Shack (red tent), at the next stage there was a techno being made out of ska and Balkan music, well that is what it sounded like anyway courtesy of DJ Kyem in the Cirque De Freakout tent (white tent) and into the Sub-Atomic Stage, the big looking castle building with a tent inside blasting out hardcore techno courtesy of Jamie Behan.  Of course my recording won’t sound anything like their music as it was also taken on the Samsung phone, so play low volume and enjoy my stagger about the top of Townlands.

Eventually all these three stages and the main stage were shut down by 2 am, so like you do when you get kicked out of the pub you go clubbing, so off we went down to the town centre of Townlands and into the Gramophone Disco, twas grand enough classic oldies and ancient tracks but we wanted something more thumping.  So into the Minus tent where Greg C was blasting out some tight techno, the Minus stage is quite a cute white tent with red ball lamps, twas the place to come during the day to hear Deep House, disco and funk and probably more techno later.  I remember looking through the tent entrance and saw torrential rain, so we stayed in the tent till close down and security told us to go, this was just after 3 am.  I could still hear banging music, frantic drum n bass verging on gabber dance music but couldn’t work out where it was coming from, like a fenced up area or something, I found out on Saturday where that sound was coming from.  Security eventually cleared us out of another three stages in the main arena and eventually we went to the campsite cafe where they were showing a film which I didn’t know but at least we could stay dry as it was lashing.  We ended up going back to the camper as I didn’t fancy opening my tent in that downpour, it was a great decision as Kevin has a heater in the camper so we could dry off too, a final night cap of a can of beer before we conked out for the night.

Saturday 9th July.

Saturday I woke up early enough and sat in the drivers seat for a while smoking a few cigarettes, eventually I heard a voice say are you making the coffee, so went to the cooker and made the coffee.  Kevin got up and cooked us a fry, a smashing way to start the Saturday at the festival.

It was a very drizzly day so kind of dampish, that kind of mountain mist that soaks you, not ideal weather but at least six of the stages were covered areas so not so bad, it was nice to see the arena in the daylight, the Riddim Shack beckoning, the hum of dub roots bass vibrating of my temples.  The last quarter bit of the hill before you get to the reggae area always catches me, I have to take a few deep breaths before I continue, you can also see the older folk arriving and composing themselves getting their breaths back before launching into some timely skanking to the reggae beat.  Met Dolly, Somhairle, Gavin and Caroline who all share the same love for the reggae, tuned into Worries Outernational with Mikey Joyride Soro, Community Hi Fi and 1 Ness from London who played some amazing music, some of which I never heard before, real earth moving dub reggae.

1Ness

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1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.

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1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.

The sounds of 1 Ness.

 

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The delightful Dolly and Blakey Blake.

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Kevin enjoying the festivities.

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The arena beginning to wake up.

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Decoration.

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The Sub-Atomic Stage (Hardcore Techno)

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The Cirque De Freakout Stage.

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This is basically the main stage mixing desk area, where the people mixing the live sound and their friends hang out.

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The Main Stage.

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The town centre.

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Mixing desk area for main stage.

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WOB! Fourth opening act on the main stage, Saturday.

Watched a bit of the early evening main stage act Magnus Major, a ska, rap and punk band from Bristol who played an energising music, I sensed they were all Beat fans as they had that pummelling energy similar to the Beats Mirror in the Bathroom sound and the Dub Pistols too, they drew a nice wee crowd no matter how heavy the drizzle was this band won a fair few devotees, check them out, worth a watch.

http://www.magnusmajor.com/

I took a look into the Minus stage, Efa O’Neill was playing a sweet set of disco electro ambient techno buzz if that makes any sense, but it was definitely a chill dance music that was very mellow like the charming Efa.

Efa O’Neill

I went back to the tent for a little rest and to get some Guinness, it was then Kevin told me about a forest area, yippee some more secret parts of the festival, it was getting mucky making it to the entrance, but solid ground on the muck when you reach the lights in the trees, you pass a small wooden shack, will come back to this after, onward you see a glimmer of red lights in shapes and a wooden stage, the Sibin Stage, impressive but dark enough for the camera not been able to focus properly, still a very chill area like Trenchtown or Port Royal. Aine Duffy and her band were rocking out a nice set, of melodic rock and pop songs, I am probably worse for wear to actually remember to describe her sound, but I got a Polly Jean Harvey/WolF Alice vibe, so take what you will from that, I enjoyed it and hope to see them at another festival or venue soon.

http://www.aineduffy.ie/about.html

There was another chill space through the other path from the Sibin stage that led to another white tent/cocktail bar with a DJ, the stuff blasting out of here was incredible, DnB, Jungle, Gabber, sky scraping dubstep, but mainly frenetic drum n bass and bass music in general.  The area around was covered in luminous decorations and dream catchers, a chill out area where you could dance like a loon to crazy electronica.

More gabber and drum n bass started coming from the small wooden shack I mentioned earlier, crazy music and a bunch of nutters squeezing into the shack area and going loopers to the music.  Now I worked out where that source of sound was coming from in the early hours of Saturday morning.  We stayed there for the rest of the night until I could not support my body anymore and I hit the hay, Kevin falling into the tent an hour or two later.

Update 26th July: Some folk have got back to me on the Townlands event Facebook page about the small wooden shack.   The area is known as the Goat Shed and some of the DJs featured over the weekend was, Liver Lifter, Welfare, Jonezy, Shiv, Sensar, Inflatable Fuhrer, Gash and Slev.

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The small shack with banging music, The Goat Shed. Photograph by Debra Mac.

Dance terms: Gabber: Known as Rotterdam Techno, Murder House, Gabba House also called Early Hardcore.  To me on Saturday and Sunday, a very fast kind of punk techno sound expertly mixed with DnB and Jungle and can move between these genres quite fluidly, well that was the buzz I got from the forest area, sometimes it could be explosive and at others times beautifully chill, the best of both worlds.  Gabber is also characterised by the last ten or fifteen minutes of Aphex Twin’s live sets for the last ten or fifteen years of him touring, possibly longer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabber

 

Sunday 10th July.

Woke up at noon and headed into the arena to the Riddim Shack to catch the last of Revelation Sound’s set and a bit of the next one courtesy of Warren Roots, catching up with a few friends and dancing to the music.  The weather still being niggly drizzle so moving a bit further into the tent.  Somhairle called me over to one of the half cars and gave me one of the seats, lovely and comfy and most of all, sheltered.

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The cool half cars seating areas.

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Inside the Cirque De Freakout tent.

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Cirque De Freakout tent art.

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The arena.

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The devil playing pan pipes.

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Myself in fine form.

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Fugitive Dreams.

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Townlands Town Centre Art.

After getting a slice of pizza at a reasonable 3.50 Euros, I went wandering about the arena bumped into Jeremy, Danyl, Gavin and Caroline and a few others, investigated the Gramophone Disco that was having a bit of a trad day with Planxty’s Cunla and various other classics and a well steamed merry audience baying for more.  Into Minus for some electronica and then I started to feel really tired, worn out a bit and that feeling of being constantly damp so I decided to go back to the tent for a lie down, Kevin done likewise going back to the camper.  I didn’t get up again till about 9.30 and just in time to see Kevin and Joe and get some cans together.  Joe is an old mate of Kevin’s from working the festivals who lives in Wicklow, we all headed into the main arena which would be the last time till 2017 I suppose.

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The Gramaphone Disco.

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Kevin and Joe.

Mungo’s Hi FI – Riddim Shack   9 – 11 pm.

Having caught Mungo’s Hi Fi at Life festival in 2011 I was well impressed with their sound and now the Glasgow collective were back to play Townlands on Sunday.  Their music has a very dub rootsy feel but incorporates dubstep, drum n bass, jungle, a gorgeous kinda bass music, I think they might be in the soundtrack to the fire show clip as well. They describe themselves on their website as ‘Forward thinking reggae music’ I go with that term myself reggae music for the future and the now.  This clip was taken on the Samsung so keep the volume down.

Mungo’s Hifi

I talked Kevin and Joe to come with me and check out Cula Bula who were starting up in the Sibin stage at 10 pm.

Cula Bula – Sibin Stage     10pm.

Cula Bula have a take on the rock trad style aka Horslips meets the Pogues meet Willie Clancy, having seen them many times on the streets of Galway busking they know how to kick off a grand party.  Tonight’s gig when I arrived the band was having sound problems, some sound levels were needing adjusted and took a little time.  But things kicked up a few notches when the lads kicked off with the Butterfly and into the Kid on the Mountain jig.  A fun show and a good act to bring the spirits up at any festival.  I would have stayed for more of the set, but I was grabbed by mates to go near to the reggae stage in the arena, some sort of fire display was going to take place.

https://www.facebook.com/culabula/

A wicker two headed effigy had been built where the Earth Circle fire was previously, the whole area around there was cordoned off, as fire acrobats and security gathered around and the overpowering smell of paraffin, you just knew you were going to see something rather epic.  Well, guess what, they set fire to it and it went up in flames and we all gawked in wonder at it while sweetly being soothed by a tin whistle playing in a piece of reggae music I think Mungo’s Hi Fi were playing from the stage.  But it was a lovely spectacle, and a grand heat from it too, fire acrobats, people with skeletal rowing boats with lights on them walking around in a semi-circle around the spectacle added to the depth of the show with Townlands town centre illuminated in the background.

I forgot to mention the food stall and forgot to take photos of the places selling food I had sampled but after nearly 72 hours of partying, a good square meal works wonders.  I had about 8 Euro left of my festival finances, I settled for the peanut and chicken vegetable curry dinner with rice, it was also served with optional rice or noodles.  I can’t for the love of me, remember the name of the food stall.  I appealed on the Townlands facebook event page and Toby Hatchett got back to me, the place was called Wokabout which sounds like a distant relation to Wok n’Roll, but Toby explained they were a local crowd from Bantry.  Anyway Wokabout done a fantastic peanut and chicken vegetable curry with either noodles or rice or mixed together if you so wished for 8 Euros, the perfect medicine to help wind up the festival blues.  I’m glad to say that the rain and drizzle stayed mostly away for Sunday night.

https://www.facebook.com/Wokabout-163114367044640/

Gentleman’s Dub Club – Main Stage     11 pm.

The Leed’s based dub band gave it socks tonight as the closing main stage act for Townlands 2016, crisp sound, lovely brass section and a few charismatic front men singers and a very tight rhythm section.  A perfect closer for the main stage and a nice audience gathered grooving to the sounds.  A band well worth checking out, I have done no research on this group and I would link their website but as with Mungo’s Hi Fi, If I link the site it for some reason creates a blank space in my blog so I will add the Wikipedia link which should link directly anyway to their website and a short clip I took of their performance on my small Sony camera.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman%27s_Dub_Club

We departed the arena for the last time and headed for the forest area, Sibin stage and dance tent in the woods.  Kevin and Joe stopped off in the tent on the way to pick up the last of our cans.  Aindrias De Staic and his band The Latchikos were the closing act and the final live act we would see for Townlands 2016.

The Latchikos – Sibin Stage      11.45 pm.

The Latchikos are a trad/rock band that can get a good stomp going, De Staic, raconteur, storyteller, fiddler and general all, mad chap had a great banter that was avidly received by a nice tidy gathered audience who could easily transform into a ceilidh as soon as the fiddle started jigging and reeling away.  Yup, De Staic had plenty of reels and jigs but he also had lyrics he composed with the tunes.  Some crazy Eastern European gypsy sets and a tight band ensuring that the Latchikos are a damn fine closing act for any festival going.

https://www.facebook.com/TheLatchikos/

The other stage at the back was playing a fine minimal chill drum n bass set as if it knew it was Sunday night and that it had to be chiller than Friday and Saturday.  Joe said that an artist called Wiggle was due to start a set there at 4 am, but myself and Kevin had, had enough at this stage so we made tracks for the camper and I’m glad we did, otherwise I would be too tired tomorrow and would’ve probably got up late.

Monday 11th July.

Kevin eventually drove back with the camper to Galway and I’m sorry I sort of ruined his plans to visit a bit of West Cork, but I never thought through the journey back to Galway plans, I thought that with there being a few from Galway there I could’ve chanced a lift back to the city, but these plans never materialised and we quickly found out that it was a hopeless case of relying on Bus Eireann to connect to Citylink in Cork to get me in time for my gig at 9.30 pm in Galway.  So out of the goodness of his heart Kevin decided to drive me back to Galway to make the gig and thank you Kevin for that.

About Townlands, I might volunteer for this one next year, Townlands is like the halfway house between the dance of Life Festival and the cool alternative vibe of Body & Soul festival.  I would go as far to say that the dance music on offer at Townlands was more wide ranging that both Life and Body&Soul, two stages dwelt with house and techno, Minus and Fugitive Dreams, whjlst the Sub-Atomic provided hardcore techno and on Sunday they were playing Warp sounding music aka Aphex Twin, Squarepusher.  The Riddim Shack and Cirque De Freakout tents dwelt with drum n bass, dubstep, reggae, techno, jungle, Eastern European folk music, World music.  And then there was the forest stages one for live music and two for banging gabber and DnB music.  Danyl, a mate was explaining to me that he was a big Boomtown Fair fan, an English festival that occurs in early August, a 4 kilometre area built like a fake city, all the stages are represented as districts or boroughs of the city with awe inspiring building structures all around and a mouth watering indie, electronic and reggae line up.  Some of the Townlands organisers have been inspired by this festival too and hence, Townlands have just completed their second year as a fake fantasy town transplanted into some fields in County Cork.  Unfortunately the elements were against them this year, had it been the heatwave that Life Festival enjoyed it could have sold out, but many people probably looked out of their bedroom window looking at the drizzle smeared and just went no.  Which is a real pity as this festival has fantastic potential.

Roll on Townlands 2017.

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Body & Soul 2016 Festival Review.

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Absoulut Bar, Friday Night.

This year Kevin had a campervan so we set off for Ballinlough on Tuesday 14th June, I had to do two twelve hour shifts on Wednesday and Thursday and then I would be free for the rest of the event.  I was stationed at Gate F this year which was the crew car park, campervans and temporary car park areas (for people registering their vehicles and getting festival accreditation).  Things not to do when you are working the pre-event or weekend for that matter, don’t forget your wellies or your rain jacket, I done both this year but thankfully one of my fellow volunteers lent me a mac as it was raining on and off during Wednesday and Thursday.

Now I won’t go into too much detail about my work but some people arriving for accreditation had the neck to park up in the area I was working in, Charlene my supervisor said no one by any means unless they were accreditation staff or someone delivering a generator could park there.  I explained it to these people which is all I can do that they can’t park there, if they didn’t heed me I left them to the wrath of Charlene or occasional security who would come up and check now and again.  The work was fairly easy but because of the rain many seemed to be holding off arriving onsite till the last minute.  This meant that Thursday, my last shift dragged on quite a bit as it would be a busy flurry and then quiet for certain lengths of time.

Another small niggly problem on the job was people misunderstanding me or the other volunteers I was working with, the scenario was I directed cars and vehicles to the temporary part of the car park, whilst the other volunteers handled the long-term car park bit.  What would happen is some people would abandon their cars at the temporary spot mistaking it for long-term and before you knew it the spaces would be filling up for people just seeking accreditation forcing me to run down to people emptying their cars of camping gear and redirecting them to the long-term parking area, man, I was glad when that Thursday shift ended.

Thursday 16th June.

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Myself, taken near the end of my Wednesday shift.

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Kevin’s Campervan.

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Kevin in his camper.

I have to admit, staying in a campervan was a completely different experience to camping in a tent, a fecking proper bed, you cannot beat that and Kevin brought his proper stereo and bass woofer so bassy dubby goodness.

For my carryout I had a crate of Guinness, some French Enigma absinthe and some Spanish absinthe I had left over from my holidays in Spain at Xmas, a few litres of spring water to louche the absinthe with and a few small plastic bottles to decant into for our walks about the festival site.  We hooked up with Simon Outram, a good buddy of mine that I made at previous Body & Souls and who was working with the Earth Guardians this year and went on a ramble to look at the site.  Not many major changes from last year but I was impressed with the new Woodlands stage, which I suspect used the roof of the old Body & Soul main stage and the placement of the Reckless in Love stage into its very own meadow.

It was chilly enough on Thursday night so we made for the enclosed woods of the Port Royal who had some nice Jamaican sounds going.  We took a look at the main arena, the Absolut bar was moved to the spot that the Chai Wallahs brown tent was last year and the Midnight Circus had a new bigger marquee this year too.  Onto the next field there was a new main stage, much bigger than the previous stage and the usual exquisite Body & Soul decorations.  The wind picked up a little and the drizzle came back so we repaired to the Port Royal enclosure again to keep that little more warm, Simon also had his own home made absinthe which gave a nice lasting heat, it has to be said.  We took a wee detour to the Walled Garden area and into one of these cool stone shelters near the Soul Kids area.  We met a sound bunch from Donegal who were volunteering for the weekend, I had my bodhran handy so I whipped it out and gave a lash with a bodhran solo and a song which everyone seemed to enjoy anyway.  There was one memorable girl there who kept winding people up who were passing outside pretending she was a dog and would give them a jump barking.

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Port Royal before the invasion of the masses.

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Port Royal before the invasion of the masses.

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Port Royal before the invasion of the masses.

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A lovely installation in the main arena.

Friday 17th June.

Hungover, I hear a knock on the camper door at about eight in the morning, it turns out its Simon, he turned up for his shift at eight but was told it was put forward to ten so he called up to us, we muttered to call back later, 8 am in the morning when you are not working and hungover is too early.  Most of the morning was spent talking to our neighbours, Dolly who was working at Port Royal, Hugh who was helping with work on one of the stages and Debra and Sharon who were Earth Guardians like Simon and various other folk.

I had no wild music agenda this year, the line up didn’t grab me like previous years so my own take on this is to follow this music with your heart, whatever grabs you, go to it. Friday was cloudy but mainly dry apart from occasional drizzle but it was cool enough in the evening time.  The first music I recall seeing was the Bitch Falcon set at the Midnight Circus on Friday evening.

Bitch Falcon – Midnight Circus Tent   7 – 7.30 pm.

Its hard to forget a group like Bitch Falcon, at Electric Picnic last year my friends group, GIRO (Which I guested with on tambourine) had just finished their set on the Body & Soul main stage and on came Bitch Falcon who blasted the cobwebs of anyone’s hangover away with blitzkrieg riffs, indie hardcore metal.  Body & Soul is bizarre that way, firstly a group playing vaudeville and gypsy folk music and then a group playing a molten indie metal with a pile driving sound.  Their performance this year in the tent had a more restrained elegance, their sound crispier and polished but still with lots of balls to make you nod your head to the beat.  Body & Soul are faultless with their sound systems and Bitch Falcon gave a nice wallop for the second opening act in the main tent for Friday, an energy akin to Iggy Pop’s Stooges.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/bitchfalcon

 

 

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The main arena gradually filling up on Friday afternoon.

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The Absolut Bar and stage in its new location.

Of course, I paid my usual visit to the Charcoal Grill in the Walled Garden for my favourite, a big juicy steak burger, I bumped into Fran Hogan, the Life festival volunteer coordinator who was helping to run the Wanderlust Stage.  I traipsed about the woods for a while taking in various art and wandered back up to the camper where Kevin was to put my feet up for a bit.  I had brought the tent but had still not put it up in the crew camp yet so it was a wee bit of an extra walk.

We went back into the main arena just after ten to get a place at the main stage to catch the Gloaming set, I was intrigued to see what they would be like being a bit of a trad head myself.

The Gloaming – Body & Soul Main Stage    10.30 – 11.30 pm.

Now I am a big fan of Iarla O Lionaird’s singing, but why did the Gloaming decide to start their set with a slow Sean Nos number, beautiful as it was it was just away too slow a start for a main headliner set, I thought a lively set of reels would’ve a more appropriate introduction, but maybe its just me.  There was nothing wrong with the music, there was some lovely sets of jigs played in that sublime slow Clare style and you can not fault the musicians, each of them a master at their own instrument.  Caoimhin O Raghallaigh is another fiddler and musician I much admire and I recommend anyone to check out his album Where the One Eyed Man is King (2007) for a true trad experimentation album.  Iarla sang some more exquisite songs and a few more sets of slowly building jigs were proffered to the audience.  As much as I loved the set and I know they were pushing that second album recently released The Gloaming II, there seemed to be a lack of faster numbers such as lively reels, polkas or marches.  When it comes to fiddlers I still prefer the Kevin Burke crunch over Martin Hayes’s playing, similar when they do for example Bobby Casey’s hornpipes, Burke’s has more balls, Hayes’s playing for me can be too overtly soft for my liking but it depends I suppose what you get from fiddling yourself.  That is not to criticise Hayes’s playing, he is the master of his craft but I prefer riffier fiddling if that is even a term to use.  I think there was a set of slow reels at one point during the set but the final closing set was a set of reels which did advance in speed, I took my bodhran out and started playing along in the audience, one or two folk egged me on, Kevin included.  An enjoyable enough gig though from the Gloaming, I think the Afro Celt Soundsystem would have been a better choice for that time also because they have Iarla as their singer too.  The Gloaming are a very talented act but I think their set would be more appreciated in a more intimate indoor setting.

http://www.thegloaming.net/home#one

We headed off for the lively Port Royal for a while, I should have checked more acts out during the drier weather but there was no hurry to see anyone really, we did catch the crazy screams and electronica of Ninos Du Brazil as we stood outside the Midnight Circus tent for a while, they were finishing up their set.

The Port Royal area was now fairly busy, all the crazy dreaders, hippies and all sorts of colourful characters and randomers bouncing about to ska, dub, calypso and reggae.  We stayed there for the rest of the night till 4 am when they had to cut the music.  I could still hear a bass somewhere, so we went in search of that sound.  Up through the main arena and up into the Absolut stage who we thought might be Donal Dineen but it was a bunch of lads called Lumo DJs who were keeping the remaining revellers entertained until 5 am and alas the weather broke again with the onslaught of heavy drizzle ushering in the dawn.

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Port Royal Friday night.

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Late night revellers dancing to the Lumo DJs at the Absolut bar near 5am.

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Absoulut Bar, Friday Night, early Saturday morning.

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A dusky Friday evening in the main arena.

Saturday 18th June.

Finally got it together today to bring my tent up to the crew camp, Kevin cooked himself a fry in his camper and then we set off to the campsite.  Simon was there and it was the first time we had seen him since Thursday, while lazing at the crew camp the sun came out and the heat was fairly welcomed as there wasn’t much of it over the last few days.  This was short lived after about an hour as the clouds closed over and a steady rain started coming down.  I heard from Kevin that Wok n’ Roll were doing volunteer discounts so I headed into the main arena and got a meal which normally costs 9 Euros for a fiver, I got a vegetarian Thai rice meal which was absolutely scrumptious and set me up for the day.

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Kevin at Crew Camp in the one wee sunny spell on early Saturday evening.

The first music I remember encountering was Saint Sister on the Woodlands stage at about 7 pm, I’m such a lazy fecker having missed half the music of the day, but it is more about the event rather than the music bill, distractions and seeing old friends annually  aside, Body & Soul is all about being carefree and one thing I increasingly noticed, people watching, especially in a place like Port Royal, the festival basically comes to you as the there are two pathways through Port Royal and a constant flow of people escaping the rain.

Saint Sister – Woodlands Stage  7 – 7.30 pm.

I was enchanted by the sound of the Irish electro-folk band Saint Sister who had a lovely crowd gathered at the Woodlands Stage, for me they had elements of Cocteau Twins (Victorialand era) and elements of early Clannad with a beautiful electronic ambient sheen over the sound.  The perfect act for the gorgeous Woodlands Stage, we were merely passing through bound for somewhere else but their dreamy sound rooted us on the spot. Their music as described on their website draws from early Celtic harp traditions, 60’s folk and electronic pop to create ‘atmosfolk’ – a mix of soulful vocal harmonies, dreamy synth and electro-acoustic harp.  A perfect Body & Soul choice I’d say, met David Curran there a fellow volunteer, his job to stand around the Woodlands stage area and give festival punters helpful advice, that was a nice number you landed there David in one of the most delightful parts of the festival.

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Kevin and David at the Woodlands Stage.

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Saint Sister at the Woodlands Stage, picture quality a little blurry like myself.

http://www.saintsisterband.com/

Borrowed from the BBC Glastonbury coverage as I have no clip of Saint Sister.

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A cool little hut to the side of the Woodlands Stage.

Many trips were taken back to the Port Royal area as the rain was intermittent and we just wanted to stay dry, I also realise I love reggae music its just so easy to dance to and Toots and the Maytals was getting played a lot of the time which for us Picnic heads we canna wait for, Toots is playing the Sunday afternoon reggae set, so why not stay in an area with the music you love, good friends and delightful nutcases.  So we basically listened to selections from Port Royal DJs such as Nigel Woods, Miss Scotty, Jay Sharp and finally some of the mighty Mikey Joyride Soro (Worries Outernational) set which went on to about 12 am.

I went out looking for cigarettes in the main arena and walled garden areas but discovered to my horror that there was no cigarette kiosks open anymore but Kevin, Debra and Sharon stepped in and saved the day giving me a bit of tobacco each which kept me going till Sunday.  Whilst wandering through the arena I took in a bit of Hudson Mohawke’s set, at that particular moment I was looking at the main stage he was doing some drum n bass workout that sounded fairly decent.  I bumped into Kevin again outside the Midnight Circus where he was soaking up some of the sounds of Cassy in the tent, I hung around, filmed a short clip outside the tent and went in for a look myself, it wasn’t too rammed and there was plenty of space to throw yourself about to the beat.  I don’t know how to describe Cassy’s music, there was a bit of house vibes and a bit of techno too so maybe it was tech house but interesting enough to arrest my attention.

http://www.cassyofficial.com/

At some point I met up with Debra and Sharon again and we went for a gawk at the Reckless in Love stage, the Mother DJs had a nice packed crowd dancing to the sounds, which was Underworld’s Two Months Off, I couldn’t help thinking deja vu here, it felt like I was looking at the Electric Picnic main stage on Friday night during Underworld’s set.

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Mother DJs at the Reckless in Love Stage.

Myself, Kevin, Debra and Sharon ended up back in Port Royal again to dance away to the selections of Tom Beary and Slick Normal & Reggae Richie till the 4 am close again and then off to catch the final hour I think at the Absolut stage with DJ Deece and the This Greedy Pig DJs.  It started drizzling heavy again so we made tracks back to the crew camper site and sat in Sharon’s camper drinking a few cans and watching the daylight come in.

Sunday 19th June.

Sunday was a proper lie in till at least 2 or 3 pm as we stayed up so late Saturday night/Sunday morning plus it was bucketing down so no rush to leave the camper as yet. Simon called up at some point and we all headed into the woods area in the early evening, I had still not moved into my tent as yet.  Today I needed funds so it meant I had to make the trawl to the atm to get money, while waiting in the queue at the bank some group was sound checking on the main stage, it was only then I realised the time as I thought it was the main stage opening act till Simon reminded me it was about 7 pm.

Batida – Body & Soul Main Stage   6.15 – 7.15 pm.

It seems Batida was supposed to start at 6.15 pm but there seemed to be technical problems with their backdrop video screen so they didn’t really get started till about 7.  Batida were a fairly exhilarating listen, part political part electronica and part world music.  They reminded me of the Kudoro music of Alo Wala and Baraka Som Sistema, Batida is the brainchild of Pedro Coquenao, a radio, video and music producer born in Huambo, Angola but raised in Lisbon, Portugal.  His 2009 album is described on the Body & Soul website ‘as one of the most relevant records done in Angola and Portugal by Antonio Pires, a referential Portuguese music journalist.’  The music was fantastic and was a nice diversion to the otherwise chore of queuing in the muck to get some money from the bank at the time I didn’t have a camera with me so I never took photos or video clips of this act, but do check them out if you get a chance.

https://www.facebook.com/batida/?fref=ts

The rain kicked in big time with heavy showers so that put an end to my exploring the main stage and main arena areas as it had become a mucky quagmire and I was ill equipped with proper rain wear or wellies to take on the muck so myself, Simon and Kevin headed for Port Royal and the cafe in there for some Marley coffee and a lovely bite to eat, some gorgeous Jamaican chicken pasties which was basically my food for the day.  We were sitting at the very back of the cafe so the outside was like a cinema film running about the weird and wonderful characters that frequented Port Royal and all to an intoxicating Jamaican soundtrack provided by Nigel Woods, Chonkie and Iarla, Sibh Conway, Sherron St Clair and the Port Royal mash up with Will Softly, Slick Normal, Rub A Dub Crew & Special right up to 2 am and the close of the festival.  So I missed Santigold and I heard earlier that she almost missed Body & Soul, a friend of mine who I work with at the Picnic advance works in passport control at Dublin airport in her normal job, she met Santigold and part of her crew.  It seems she just made the gig as half her equipment and crew were stranded at Barcelona airport, in fact another friend texted me this as well.  I did partly catch the David August gig from the Port Royal, the bass echo came in strong from the Midnight Circus behind me so i basically was enjoying two gigs at once.  Back to Kevin’s camper to drain our booze and hit the hay for the night.

Monday 20th June.

So the end to the Body & Soul 2016 edition if a little wet and mucky and not as bad as Glastonbury patrons had to endure the following weekend.  Kevin had to work the Soul Kids break down for the Monday so I nipped out earlier to bring down my tent which sat unused for two days, just got back in time for Kevin heading off to his shift so sat in the camper for most of the day having the blether with Dolly and Danyl who were milling about the crew camper site.  My thanks to the coordinators Catherine Kehoe, Karolina and supervisor Charlene Cristopher and all my buddies at Body & Soul, no doubt I will see some of you at Townlands Carnival and Electric Picnic in September.

Love and peace Y’all.

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Southern Spain: A Trek Through Andalucia

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Monday December 28th 2015 – Monday January 11th 2016.

So off we set, myself, Marguerite, Brendan and Oisin on our second sojourn, the first being in Istanbul in 2012, this time it was to Malaga in Southern Spain and an exploration of the Andalucia region.  From the brisk and breezy climate of cold Dublin to the warm climate of orange trees, magnificent cathedrals, churches and castles. terraced balconied houses, incredible food and drink and the happy Spanish vibe.  We couldn’t have set off at a better time, through the throes of mid winter near the end of December to what seemed like mid summer to us Irish folk.

December 28th, 29th 2015  Malaga.

Having just come out of Malaga airport it still hadn’t dawned on us how hot it actually was, it was just amazing to see bright sunshine and dry pavements.  Our first encounter with Spanish public transport was a bit weird, all we had was an itinerary with a rudimentary address in Malaga, the bus driver had no English so we had to work out what he said.  It was nearly a disaster when I hopped off the bus at one point thinking it was our stop, which it wasn’t.  The doors closed again and the rest of us didn’t get off, so I had to hammer and hammer the doors to get back on again.  God knows what would have happened if the bus sped off without me and myself with no notion where I was.

We eventually got off in the town centre with wide marble streets and set about trying to find Pepa’s place, our first landlady in Spain and our first Air B and B.  It was a bit of a task, Por Favor was the most used phrase asked to strangers here to find our street.   Luckily we bumped into Pepa I think outside the Ispana cafeteria and bar where she was having a coffee and we found our first little bit of paradise tucked in behind the tapa bars, castles and cathedral.

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The Living room in the first floor of our accommodation.

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The bedroom in the first floor.

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Some of the pictures that adorned the wall of our apartment.

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The Entrance to our humble abode.

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Some of the art or cool graffiti outside our apartment.

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The coolest thing of all was the top floor was the roof.  Oisin and Brendan playing footie.

I have no real idea at this stage where we visited on that first Monday afternoon and evening, all I know was that Oisin was on a quest to taste churros, a doughnut type stick that you dipped into a cup or mug of hot chocolate.  This is the cool kiddies breakfast in Spain but you have to be fast, most places stop serving them after noon.

We did eventually find a place just off the square in Malaga central somewhere, a bar and also a cafeteria like most other places in Spain.  The adults settled for a cool glass of beer whilst Oisin got his desired churros.  That is the thing with this part of Spain, everything is so pretty to look at that you cannot stop taking photos, right down to small details like the balconies on nearly every building and intricate details on ceramic tiles adorning halls, doorways and arches of buildings.

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Oisin enjoying his Churros breakfast.

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The beautiful balconied buildings of Malaga.

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Oisin choosing Barcelona football postcards to send to his mates.

Another cool aspect about Spanish culture is the tapas thing, instead of getting one square meal, you choose a bunch of things in the menu, I will elaborate the more I get into this review.  All the different portions come out in three or four plates and you just sample a bit from each dish.  One of my favourites was Calamari rings fried in batter, deep fried pieces of Squid.  Bread was customary with your tapas and normally you are given bottles of olive oil and vinegar to soak the bread in, simply delicious.  Lovely plates of Manchego cheese and incredible red wines.  Ah, this is the life.  Washed down with a Cafe Con Leche, a Spanish latte made with half espresso and half scalded milk.

I think we checked out a few other places, in particular a restaurant called Taberna el Piyayo that was adorned in ceramic tiles where we had some lovely wine and I had a nice meal of Iberian ham and egg and a nice strong Americano coffee.

I didn’t sleep great, the Spanish love their fireworks and they were going off intermittently during the night, I probably didn’t help the situation by having a strong coffee so late last night.  Anyway was first up and showered when I called Brendan.  We both set off to find a place serving coffee to go and orange juice to bring back to the apartment for breakfast.

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The Xmas light display during daylight on the main street, Malaga.

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Cool art in the streets with Oisin, Malaga.

I caught a short clip of the ambience outside the TragaTapas bar/restaurant in Malaga.

We were walking about the area near the Alcazaba, a fortress dating from 700 but completed in the 11th century, It was also in the area outside the Alcazaba I spotted my first Flamenco guitarist busker, I threw in a few coins.

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The Alcazaba in Malaga.

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The Amphitheatre at the Alkazaba, Malaga.

 

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Marguerite on the Carousel.

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Brendan, Oisin enjoying a chocolate crepe and myself at the amusement park in Malaga.

Oisin on the Slide at the Amusement Park in Malaga.

This was a real twilight place, it seemed the later it was the better it became.  The additional Xmas lights came alive and Malaga lit up.

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The Xmas lights display in Malaga’s main thoroughfare.

A busking jazz group who moved about the main cathedral square in Malaga.

We were hanging about around the cathedral square area, which had many outdoor bars and dining areas so this attracted wandering buskers such as the jazz band in the video above and an accordionist who was playing pleasant waltzes, a few beggars mingling in too.  Wonderful drinking areas that insured we wouldn’t be cold in the night with neat little fire lamps blazing near the tables.  I tried various beers, Sam Miguel lager I suppose works out like Spain’s answer to Tennent’s lager in Scotland but I still consider it a nice crisp beer, there was some nice local Malaga brands and Alhambra beer, Estrella Damm among others.  Our final port of call for the day was the Mercado de la Merced bar and dining area, I never seen anywhere quite like it, groups of restaurants and bars like little stalls under one roof with a general seating area in the middle and an array of different Xmas cribs near the seating and the place was absolutely rammed.

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Mercado de la Merced, Malaga.

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Mercado de la Merced, Malaga.

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The flood lit Roman amphitheatre just outside the Alcazaba, Malaga.

December 30th  Malaga / Seville.

I awoke first this morning again and woke up everyone else, we were meeting Pepa at the apartment at 11 pm so went for a walk in search of breakfast, we found the same cafeteria myself and Brendan got the carry out from yesterday.  I settled for a Spanish fry up which was delicious, lovely thin sausages, real yolky fried eggs and lovely crisp Iberian ham.  The orange juice made your eyes water it was that fresh and probably fell from a nearby tree that morning and of course, I have never turned down a cafe con leche, simply the business.

Today was the clearest and hottest day so far, we chanced upon this really cool second hand store which seemed to specialise in psychedelic clothes from the late sixties, I bought myself a psychedelic waist coat, Oisin spotted a bag that Marguerite might like and when she saw it she fell in love with it, so I bought it for her Christmas present and she got herself a lovely velvet hat and Brendan kitted himself out with a new pair of jeans.

So with taxi booked from the apartment, we met Pepa at eleven and handed back her keys and said our goodbyes, she took a photo of us on my camera.  We would be back in Malaga for a night on the 6th January.

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Photo taken by Pepa as we were leaving for Seville.

The trains were quite cheap and fast compared to Iarnod Eireann and buses even cheaper to travel, public transport being fairly affordable in Spain. I put on the last Harry Potter film for Oisin on the laptop, Deathly Hallows Pt 2, I timed it perfectly the film finished up fifteen minutes before the journey completed.  Half the time I was looking at the film the other half of the time with my jaw dropped looking at the Spanish scenery, such as the mountain range we passed through coming out of Malaga.

Our next destination was the Hosteria Del Laurel in the heart of Seville, it took a bit of walking to find the place as the taxi can only drop you off at a certain part of the town, but once we found the place, we immediately set about exploring Seville.

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Hosteria Del Laurel, Seville.

https://www.sevilla5.com/hotels/hosteria-del-laurel.html

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The courtyard outside the Hosteria Del Laurel, packed with tourists, gift shops and bars.

Seville had a similar feel to Malaga, but seemed more local and with cool narrower alleys and streets that winded this way and that and some incredible musicians plonked in street corners earning their dinner for the night.

There was price differences in Seville, postcards and gifts seemed to be a bit cheaper and there was a concentration of more tapas bars and restaurants, although that is not to say Malaga had any less, its just I suppose some of the streets seemed narrower, so the eateries seemed closer and more in abundance.

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Seville thoroughfare in the late evening lit up for the festive period.

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Lovely  Christmas illuminations dotted the streets of Seville.

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Great big Christmas tree in Seville.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first restaurants we stopped at on the first night in Seville, we were all walking around awestruck that sometimes you forget you have a camera on you.  The first tapas bar we stopped at wasn’t too far from the hotel but all of the family voted that it was a bit expensive although it was nice food.  There was a memorable harmonica busker who played a low down cowboy version of White Christmas which I liked and handed him a few coins but he got shooed away by bar staff.  He started up at another place nearby playing the same tune, I wish he varied it, maybe played a little blues too.

We came to another children’s Christmas theme style park, that had a skating rink blasting out classic Christmas melodies, Oisin was in a wonderland.  The Spanish really know how to look after the kids, lots of play parks, theme parks and amusements, perfect for family holidays.

Oisin having his first ice skate in Seville.

Walking about the streets we chanced upon an ice cream shop that was crammed with customers and I could see why, some of the loveliest ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my life. La Campana was the name of the shop, I treated the family to a cone each, the chocolate ice cream was a clear winner for the majority whilst Brendan went for a coffee flavoured ice cream I think.

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La Campana Ice Cream Shop, Seville.

The first night was tricky trying to find our hotel, we were accosting people with Por Favor and Perdon and showing them our hotel receipt with the address, Marguerite could speak the best broken Spanish of the lot of us.  Most gave directions of go left and left again and possibly a right.  I don’t know how we done it in the end but we just walked into the square and there we were at the hotel.

December 31st 2015, January 1st 2016, Seville.

I awoke early again, it must be something to do with the climate, no bundling bed clothes around me to keep warm, or maybe I was just pinching myself looking at orange trees in the sunlight whilst having my morning roll up.

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Orange trees in Seville.

I got talking to the receptionist at the Hosteria del Laurel, the hotel was run by two brothers and a sister, one brother is a Flamenco guitarist and the other brother is a Flamenco dancer and the sister too, so we were living in the centre of Spanish tradition. Now time for my morning shower, did I tell you about this shower.  Its the weirdest contraption I have ever come across, apart from the usual shower head it had various shower heads lined up from the top to the bottom, if you didn’t know what you were doing it came across like being stuck in a sinking U Boat, with leaks springing everywhere, eventually I got it to come out the main nozzle.  Oisin was apparently in stitches laughing at the sounds of me coming from the bathroom.

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Fancy bull ornaments that were in the hotel lobby of our floor.

Yesterday Marguerite and Brendan worked out a two way deal with some guides for today, we got tickets to go on a open top double decker bus with accompanying headphones to relay the history of Seville to us and later on a Flamenco show with the complete works and a drink included.  We discovered that the Spanish are quite protective about their traditions, they wouldn’t be doing free shows in the bars with their traditional music, it was usually a drinks or meal deal with a Flamenco show provided afterwards.

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One of the churches of Seville.

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There was some amazing castles in Seville too.

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Some of the amazing buildings photographed from on top of the double decker bus.

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Buildings photographed from the bus.

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Beautiful water fountains in every Spanish town and city.

It started raining during the bus trip so we trooped down to the covered section although the impact and view was ruined, so we decided to hop off and head for a restaurant out of the rain taking in a few shops on the way.  We stopped at a nice tapas bar called Boca A Boca, a nice cosy restaurant that had a very appealing Andalusia décor. I can’t remember specifically what we had in the menu but it was lovely food.  It was a busy enough place so we were lucky to get seats at a table there.

Boca A Boca.

After that we went back to the hotel for a refresh before we set off for the Flamenco show. Getting sort of lost again, we were trying to work out what entrance from the square to our street was, was it the illuminated cow area or the shop front with the seventies disco lights.  One stranger we accosted to get directions, Marguerite guessed from his broken Spanish that he was Scottish, to which he was and from Glasgow too.  He was the first Scot we met on our travels in Spain and he made the distinction as it was raining at the time that this was only the third time that it rained in Seville since September.

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Boca A Boca Tapas Ber, Seville.

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A well fed and watered content lot at Boca A Boca in Seville.

We eventually found the place for the Flamenco show, I’ll spare you the name of the place as there is just too much info to take in at this point.  But the show was fantastic, two Flamenco guitarists, five or six Flamenco dancing Señoritas and singers in colourful costume and three dancing sharp dressed men.  We were treated to some amazing singing in all its traditional Spanish glory, amazing footwork and steps stamped out in time and beautiful intricate guitar playing.  I tried to take a video clip on the camera but an usher came up to me saying photos were prohibited so I can’t show you my own clip.

We took the opportunity to visit one of the churches in town during a mass and taking a few cool photos although flash photography was prohibited.

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A class crib scene in a church in Seville.

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Class art in a Seville church.

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A church in Seville

Brendan spotted something in the Seville map that he thought would be of interest, the Metropol Parasol, a piece of art and architecture created by a German architect ‎Jürgen, H. Mayer.

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The Metropol Parasol, Seville.

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The Metropol Parasol, Seville.

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Some cool art displayed on a balcony in Seville.

Places were getting harder to find but there was always places still open, you just had to cock your ear and listen hard, normally chatter coming from a side street.  We found a busy wee bar down a side street and managed to get a few bottles of beer each.  Another amble and we found a small tapas place blasting out classic seventies rock.  We got a lovely sandwich and chips splattered with streaks of red sauce and streaks of mayonnaise which seemed to be a typical way we discovered throughout South of Spain.  We also had a few nice glasses of red wine and Marguerite used her amazing charm to wring a deal with the barman as it was really, really packed out and we were very lucky to fit into the place.

By now it was getting late enough so we repaired back to the hotel where we were able to buy some wine from the bar there.  Marguerite brought some home made cordial cognac with her and we headed out again to the Plaza Square to ring in the New Year and drink a shot of the cognac.  There was some crowd gathered there and the atmosphere was fantastic. Although the fireworks show never happened or else it was taking place a few blocks back and the authorities didn’t tell anyone.  It seems the state just thought that the local populace would just do the fireworks themselves, which they did.  it was quite freaky you couldn’t see fireworks but you could hear them going off right beside you, even the parents were handing their children fireworks which I thought to be a bit crazy really.

Back to the hotel for the night to put a New Year message onto Facebook, send a few texts and to have a glass of wine before we retired for the night, we put on the TV and watched the Flamenco channel for the last hour, a nice way to end the night.

We went to look at the Metropol Parasol on Friday afternoon but it still wasn’t open to the public, I can imagine some of the views you would get at the top of the cityscape.

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The Metropol Parasol during daylight on New Years day, Seville.

Today was a pretty laid back day, we just took it handy strolling along at our own pace, it was decided to we would hire a horse and cart today to see Seville from a different angle to the bus tour.

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A cool pottery and ceramics shop in Seville.

January 2nd Seville / Cordoba.

I think we had to catch a train at eleven or twelve pm to Cordoba so we had a bit of time to wander about for the last time in Seville, find a tapas bar and write out a few postcards or something like that.  We came to a nice place with an outdoor area called Alvaro Peregil, a tapas bar with excellent service and amazing food, the area was delightful with orange trees everywhere.

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Alvaro Peregil Tapas Bar, Seville.

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Brendan, Oisin and Marguerite relaxing outside Alvaro Peregil Tapas Bar in Seville.

Just as we were about to get ready to leave the Alvaro Peregil place some spontaneous folk music started up in the adjoining bar which we discovered was still part of the place we were at.  First we heard verses of song and hand claps and then a tin whistle joined too.  I could barely contain myself, I whisked out my small camera and caught a bit of the action. We were also treated to some of their unique Seville Sangria, an orange flavoured wine which was gorgeous if not a bit too sweet.

http://www.tabernasperegil.com/alvaro_ppal_eng.htm

It was off after that to catch our train to Cordoba, so back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and into a taxi to Seville train station.  A thing I noticed about the Spanish train stations, there was always extra armed security around and you had to put your backpacks through a scanning machine.  The Spanish aren’t taking any chances after the 2004 Madrid terrorist attacks, so that extra security is needed.

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Brendan relaxed for the train journey to Cordoba.

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The lovely modern and comfortable trains of Renfe (Spanish Rail)

 

Cordoba was fairly effortless, the train journey and the taxi straight to the hotel, the only thing that wasted time was the hotel receptionist taking a particularly long time in registering us into the hotel, but once we were official he gave a little smile and everything was cool.  I wish I had taken a photo of the place as it was a class wee hotel.  My room looked out into the cityscape that was Cordoba with fantastic views of some of the tall spires and churches in the area.

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Exploring sunny Cordoba 2nd January.

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Cordoba.

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A ceramic tiled arch in Cordoba.

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Cordoba gets a healthy tourist season all year round, like an never ending summer.

We had the munchies so it was an onward march to find the nearest tapas bar and get eating and drinking merry.  We sat down at an outdoor eating area that had different tables each side for different restaurants, we had waiters in red shirts whilst the tapas bar at the other side had pale blue shirts.  While we were waiting about fifteen minutes for someone to take an order, two musicians started up in the middle to make some money.  Eventually someone in a red tee shirt came and abruptly told us they were closed which was kind of annoying after waiting that time with mounting hunger.

I think that diversion came to some good as we must have came to the finest eating house in Spain so far, the food and drink was incredible, the name of the restaurant was called Bodegas Mezquita.

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The finest restaurant in Cordoba

The waiters, chef and everyone was really friendly, they had a particular brand of beer unique to Seville called Cruzcampo, a lovely crisp lager that was highly recommended.

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Cruzcampo Lager unique to Seville.

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Salmorejo blanquiverde en homar al Cordoba CF – White and Green almond and basil based- cream or soup.

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The much loved Manchego Cheese platter served with mandarin marmalade and some brie.

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Bacalao frito con ensalada de primientos del piquillo – Deep fried cod with ‘Piquillo’ pepper salad.

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Biscuit, chocolate and cream cake with vanilla coulis and a touch of caramel.  The sherry was a unique Cordoba one that the waiter gave us a free glass of with our desert.

To say at the very least, we were pretty stuffed after that but at the same time, I have never seen food disappear so fast it was that delectable.

http://www.bodegasmezquita.com/en/

Cordoba has a lovely vibe about it, cool hippy type pubs, lovely cafeterias and restaurants and some cute gift shops tucked into its streets and its architecture was second to none, beautiful churches, amazing cathedral and castles all over the place.  I noticed that there was extra police officers around Cordoba and warnings occasionally, to be on the look out for pick pockets.

We visited a bar for a snappy beer, it had cool funky rock music blasting out of it and fairly young clientèle, Oisin asked for an orange juice as they had an amazing looking juicer machine.  He got an amazing looking drink, I must have been half cut at the time as I couldn’t get a decent photo of his drink.

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Oisin’s class orange juice, Cordoba.

We came across a curious wine, sherry and chocolate shop called La Casa Del Pedro Ximenez that specialised in Cordoba sherries and wines, extremely nice ideas for gifts and some scrumptious dark chocolates.  And a beautiful dark haired young señorita with excellent English who helped charm us to part with some cash for gifts, a lovely little shop worth a visit.

http://www.lacasadelpedroximenez.com/en/index.html

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The hustle and bustle of Cordoba night life, this could be a street in Kinsale or Clonakilty.

There were other weird liqueur, spirits and gift shops around Cordoba where I picked up various gifts and postcards and I couldn’t resist it after reading about it in a book Marguerite gave me called The Devil’s Picnic by Taras Grescoe, a miniature of 160 % alcohol proof Absinthe, one of the small ones which you usually buy in a pack of five, of Le Diable Jaune Absinthe.  Grescoe’s chapter Absinthe Suisse is worth a read, he is trying to seek out the true original elixir that apparently still exists in parts of France and Switzerland, the stuff that pre-dates the prohibition law passed by both countries in the early twentieth century.  The original stuff went underground so still existed but was unlabelled, so kinda like Ireland’s Poitin, you can still apparently buy the bootleg absinthe in parts of Switzerland from absinthe devotees.  Personally the Diable Jaune stuff was mainly just pure alcohol and after reading the review later it was just a Spanish imitation that wasn’t distilled and not the real thing really, Diable Jaune’s speciality mainly being great wine makers.  There are some nice authentic Spanish ones too and it should be noted that Spain, Ireland and the UK never did outlaw absinthe, so distilleries have flourished in Spain, whilst the other two countries, it never has been a serious market compared to whiskey, vodka, brandy and gin.

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Le Diable Jaune miniature bottle of 160 % proof Absinthe.

After another bit of walking about it was time to get a supper, we stopped at another tapas place called the Casa Rubio Bar.  I opted for a square meal this time rather than tapas, I think I went for the Bacalao frito con vizcaína – Spicy biscay style cod in tempura and was served with the chip style we seen in that tapas bar on new years eve, with streaks of mayonnaise and red sauce.  I have to say that this was incredibly delicious and Marguerite’s and Brendan’s tapas looked lovely too.  Casa Rubio Bar is worth a visit with friendly staff and nice cuisine.

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Casa Rubio Bar, Cordoba.

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Casa Rubio Bar, Cordoba.

http://restaurantecasarubiocordoba.com/

I think we went back to the hotel after that and settled down for the night, I started messaging Jerry through Facebook about my travels so far and that I was taking a few sips of my first absinthe and staring out into the night scape from the back room window.

January 3rd Cordoba / Guadix. 

We popped out for a bit as you didn’t have sign out too early but I think there was a schedule, we had to catch a train and then a bus to Granada.  We went to check out the cathedral which was very convenient as it was just across the road from the hotel.

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The grounds of the cathedral, Cordoba.

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My fellow travelling companions in the grounds of the cathedral, Cordoba.

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The beautiful sunlit windows of Cordoba cathedral.

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Amazing calligraphy on display at Cordoba cathedral.

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Beautiful marble arches and floors that adorn Cordoba cathedral.

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A gorgeous gilded room in Cordoba cathedral.

Firstly the train journey was incredibly fast, about less than thirty minutes, I can’t remember where the bus pick up was but we had to get a taxi I think in between to the bus terminus and then just over an hour and twenty minutes to Granada.  I think we had to get a taxi to the next bus station or something as it was in the other side of town and got on a bus to Guadix.  When we got to Guadix bus station a taxi was hailed to bring us to the Hotel Palacio de Onate.   The taxi dropped us at the wrong address so we had to find the hotel ourselves.

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Palacio de Onate Hotel, Guadix.

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Oisin and Brendan,myself enjoying the first drink at Hotel Palacio de Onate, Guadix.

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Our lovely hotel room in Guadix.

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The family in Guadix.

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The auld lad and me.

Guadix is probably the smallest town in our itinerary with only a handful of pubs and restaurants, hotels and not as touristy as previous places, so all the more interesting, off the beaten track.  We found there was a lively outdoor Christmas market with some cool sounds blasting out, we seen a few of these markets in other towns but nearly three quarters of the Malaga and Seville markets were selling leather handbags.  The one in Guadix was quite special and their scope of craft impressive.  There was one stall that appeared obsessed with old compasses, sea maps and old style compass maps.  There was a crepe stall blasting out a hip hop/reggae/South American hybrid music, nice stuff.  A Swiss guy with stall of replica ceramic Swiss house models and Norwegian models, strange pipes, gnomes and strange little tinkly bells.  Some delicious tapas stalls that served a nice bottle of wine too.

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Outdoor Christmas Market, Guadix January 3rd.

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Delicious tapas served up at a stall in the outdoor market, Guadix.

We headed back to the hotel for the night and I think I had a few pints in the hotel bar before heading to bed, stayed up for an hour to upload photos into the computer from the previous day.

January 4th Guadix.

We had a bit of a lie in today and headed into town to check out some of the shops and the general area, there was a bit more local feel to the place a kind of working class feel, very earthy and there were parts of the town that were completely empty, so maybe recession strapped too.  Oisin got the munchies and was craving churros, so we stopped at a cafeteria/bar called Versalles for our breakfast, who served up some nice food and possibly the biggest serving of the churros doughnut I ever saw.

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‘Corr! Would you ever look at that!’ Churros at Versalles in Guadix.

https://11870.com/pro/cafeteria-bar-churreria-versalles

We took a walk up to the tourist information office in the square, we wanted to find info about how to maybe visit the cave houses or for some sort of tour guide, even maybe hiring a car.  There was a small tour train but that was closed at the moment but we found out about Alfredo through the tourist office, I think he was Guadix’s only horse and cart man so we arranged to meet Alfredo in the square.  His business was known as Alfredo: Ruta a las Cuevas – Route to the Caves and he had two horses and a really cool looking carriage.

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Alfredo’s horses and cart, Guadix.

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Alfredo, Guadix.

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Oisin sitting out front and given the reins, Guadix.

Alfredo took us out into the outskirts of Guadix which is basically a mountain range transformed into a community, people carving their homes out of stone, the caves of Guadix, home to many people for the last twenty years or more.  It was a bit chillier up here on top of the range, there was a wind blowing and it was quite cold, but the sights were amazing.

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Guadix caves area.

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Guadix caves area.

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Guadix caves area.

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Guadix caves area.

We stopped off at another bar and cafeteria, all of the places in Guadix gave you free snacks if you had a beer in their place.  One thing stood out about this bar, it had pictures of flooding disasters that occurred in Guadix in 1973, quite morbid stuff to have up in the wall.

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Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

We went for another walkabout and came to a tiny bar called Bar Cervantes run by a man called Miguel, the space was tiny enough for maybe fifteen or twenty people comfortably or thirty five people would be uncomfortably packed.  But this was the most chilled bar I’ve ever walked into and Miguel, the barman and owner is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He was playing a radio station on the telly called Radio Clasica, that wasn’t just classical music, there was folk and Flamenco and seriously old stuff from the gramophone era, vaudeville Flamenco from the 1920s and 1930s by the sounds of it.  It reminded me of Reels to Ragas hosted by PJ Curtis on Lyric FM.  It was just wonderful to hear something like this in a small pub.  We got some beers and Miguel gave us these delicious chicken bits and bread for free, this was fantastic, you get your dinner and beer together for the price of the beer, a bit like paradise really and I think Miguel really liked our company too.   It was Miguel who introduced us to that almighty and strong beer, Alhambra Reserva 1925.  My curiosity had got the better of me, I asked Miguel about the green unlabelled bottles on the counter behind him.  It turns out the glass is labelled or stencilled in itself, but a very, very strong beer.

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Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

 

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The crew at Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

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The amazing Miguel, barman, chef and owner of Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

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Newspaper article on Miguel and the Bar Cervantes.

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Alhambra Reserva 1925.

Later in the hotel bar after a few pints with the family, I headed off on my own for a while to suss out a few other pubs in Guadix.  La Bodeguilla was a narrow enough pub that had a fair crowd in it, you got free nut snacks with your glasses of beer and it seemed amiable enough but not the same without the others.

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La Bodeguilla Bar, Guadix.

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La Bodeguilla Bar, Guadix.

I went into a second bar called Bodegas Calatrava, just around the corner before the hotel and had another glass of beer there, they also gave free snacks with the drinks.  It seemed a cheerful enough place.

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Bodegas Calatrava Bar, Guadix.

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Bodegas Calatrava Bar, Guadix.

I had a final pint in the hotel bar and headed off to bed, Oisin was in the other room.  I foolishly took another sip or two of absinthe, would regret this in the morning.

 

January 5th Guadix – Granada – Alhambra and Granada again and Guadix.

The schedule today was to catch a bus to Granada, taxiing to the great Muslim palace, the Alhambra from Granada bus station.  The cab ride to the Alhambra was entertaining as the cab driver was Swiss and had excellent English, he gave an interesting history of Granada and was glad that we chose to come here as he felt the people in the region to be some of the warmest friendliest people in Spain.  He relayed the funny story about the wee tourist train here, that it doesn’t have suspension, so when it goes over the cobblestone everyone hits their heads of the roof of the carriage.

There was a small queue for the Alhambra, well a bunch of queues, one for people who had booked in on line already and the other for people just buying tickets there and then.  We apparently came at the best time, had we turned up on speck to buy a ticket say, in June or July, you wouldn’t get in, everyone in the summer books on line, you would be waiting all day to buy a ticket.  We were also told that the entire length of the Alhambra and its estate is about 5 Kilometres long which is a lot of walking and was a lot of walking.  While we were in the structure, we were told a few times to carry our backpacks in front of us due to a high rate of pick pocketing and stealing.

The Alhambra was an incredible place, incredible calligraphy, art, amazing arches and ceilings, beautiful fountains and waterways, orchards and gardens.  The tourism there still seemed to be busy enough for them never to have to shut it down for the winter, which means it operates the whole year round and why not, the climate is very much the same if just a little cooler than Malaga or Seville.

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Cool hedge way leading towards the Alhambra, Granada.

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The Alhambra, Granada.

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The Alhambra, Granada.

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The Alhambra, Granada.

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Beautiful etchings and archways in the Alhambra, Granada.

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The intricate artwork of the Alhambra, Granada.

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Incredible detail  went into this work at the Alhambra, Granada.

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A cool silhouette carved out of the window ledge it sprang, Alhambra, Granada.

We hailed another taxi to bring us to a tapas bar in the city centre looking at a few shops on the way, I fancied a tee shirt for myself, I think I recognised the calligraphy from one of the walls at the Alhambra.  We eventually settled into this small tapas bar called La Antigualla  that was subtly lit like a nightclub and had some pop music playing out of the television.  We ordered three pints of lager and the barman presented us with delicious burgers free to eat with the drink, a nice touch.  We got talking about music and then folk music.  The man’s name is Luthier Ahmad Al Haj Ibrahim and he was originally from Syria but settled in Granada for about fifteen years, he is a traditional musician who plays and makes the stringed instrument called the Oud.  His bar was a nice stop off point and when we ordered a second round of beers more lovely burgers appeared.  I ended up going back to that gift shop and buying the tee shirt, I wanted to buy a memento to do with the area of Granada, Oisin got a cool hoodie too with Granada and some lovely knot work on it.

http://www.tapas-granada.com/la-antigualla/

https://www.facebook.com/khaled.otaibi.37?fref=ts

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La Antigualla tapas bar, Granada.

As we tried to make our way towards a taxicab to go to the station, the crowd suddenly swelled. unbeknown to us, a crowd was gathering for the Granada 3 Kings Christmas Parade so it was quite freaky not been able to escape the crowd for ages.  We eventually managed to make it up a side street and into the back streets till we could flag down a cab, it was the busiest I have ever seen in a town in Spain.  But the cab managed to get us to the bus station where we still had an hour to mill.  Granada at this time had a huge cloudburst of rain, never seen rain quite like that for a while but you could hear it walloping of the bus station roof.  We got more beers in the station bar and because it was Three Kings day they were giving out free food, so I was completely stuffed by the time we had to board the bus plus we were drinking the Alhambra Reserva 1925.

We walked a short bit into the town centre and straight into Bar Cervantes which was pretty full this time round and Miguel the perfect host.  The rest of us wanted another drink but I asked for a cafe con leche as I was still full up from drinking earlier, the coffee was delicious and revived me, perhaps a little too much.  They enticed me to have a glass of red wine in the second round in which I relented, we watched  a Spanish news channel that was showing all the different parades that had happened around Spain over the evening, it was an interesting watch.

I think it was an early rise tomorrow as the 10 or 11 am bus was booked from Guadix to Granada, so we all headed for bed to get an early night.

6th January  Gaudix – Granada – Malaga.

The journey through the Granada mountains through to the Malaga  mountains was stunning and I was starting to get excited again, it was getting hotter and sunnier.

When we finally got to Malaga we got a taxi as far as it would go, the street leading to Petit Palace was too narrow, but not a bother, registration was fairly quick, they were a professional lot and fairly friendly.  Into the elevator to the fourth floor and room 401.    We got a plush spacious room, me and Oisin got the bunk beds and Marguerite and Brendan got decent sized single beds and loads of power points to charge stuff.  We immediately unpacked a few things, started charging up a few things and got out in search of the tapas experience again.

We stopped at a restaurant called Taberna el Mentidero for a few tapas and some beer, there was a nice selection of food there, the fried dog fish was absolutely delicious, fried in a sort of batter, it looked like nuggets but was much much nicer.  It was nice to be back in Malaga.

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The Taberna El Mentidero Tapas Bar, Malaga.

Taberna El Mentidero

I think we just milled about slowly around the town centre up near the Alkazaba structure and the cafes around there.  We stopped at Cafe de L’abuela which was a nice outdoor location looking over the space towards the Alcazaba, there was a juggler who was rather good and caught my attention for a bit.  Some drunk guy turned up then and started to holler some mad sounding Flamenco acapella to a bemused drinking and eating public. Cafe de L’abuela was expensive enough I suppose considering its location, Marguerite wanted to buy wine advertised at 14 Euro, but it turns out it was a glass of and not a bottle of wine.  We just had beers and some short snappy tapas.  It was a great place though to mill about in and write some postcards.

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Cafe de L’abueula

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Oisin taking a break from tapping his ball around. Malaga 6th January

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An establishment we may have or may have not visited, it certainly made for a photogenic bar entrance, Malaga.

There was some great music creating a nice atmosphere in the street.  We stopped at another tapas bar in one of the main streets, wider marble streets, the ambience here was amazing, helped by the Flamenco inspired folk rock of Johan Hagstrom, originally from Sweden who played Flamenco guitar and Chiara Bolignari originally from Italy who played accordion, playing this amazing music.

 

 

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Me and Oisin get to share this awesome cake, yum!  Malaga.

We had a few beers here, some nice tapas, can’t really remember what, but no complaints twas lovely and of course, the chocolate cake I got to share with Oisin.  I had a few more drinks with the family and decided to split for a while and team up with Johan and Chiara and go on a bit of a ramble.

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Chiara and Johan in Malaga 6th January.

Johan and Chiara have been in Malaga for about three months busking and playing gigs about the city, they also done the Canary Islands over the summer and South of Spain in general.  We had a few drinks and went off to a kebab place for a meal deal of a chicken burger and a can of Sam Miguel.  I got back to the hotel at 1 am and hit the sack for the night.

7th January Malaga / Marbella.

Got up, into the lift and out for a walk around the square, the sun was cracking the stones, bought a coffee to go and wandered about the place for a while.  Went back had a shower and we all packed up the cases, handed the pass keys back to the reception and asked if they would look after our luggage for a few hours.

It was such a fun and lovely day, we went exploring the Alcazaba. We stopped at a tapas bar called Ispana on Thursday morning, they do a lovely breakfast deal, a sandwich with manchego cheese and crisp Iberian ham, a fresh orange juice and a cafe con leche for 3.50 Euro, which is great value and delicious.

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Ispana Resturante, Plaza de le Merced 16, Malaga

The Alcazaba is a gorgeous looking fortess with gardens, archways and paths leading high above the cityscape, built in the Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century and considered to be the best preserved citadel in Spain.  there is also the remnants of a Roman theatre dating from the 1st century next to the entrance to the Alcazaba.  Most of the info here is taken from the Wikipedia article on the Alcazaba.

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Brendan at the Alcazaba in Malaga.

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The Alcazaba, Malaga.

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The Alcazaba, Malaga.

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The Alcazaba, Malaga.

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The Malaga cityscape from high above in the Alcazaba.

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The Alcazaba, Malaga.

We stopped at a cafeteria that was doing ice cream and I bought everyone a cone, nice to have an ice cream on a sun splashed day.  We went for a trip down to the dockside area and on to one of Europe’s biggest Ferris Wheels, the Mirador Princess.

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The Mirador Princess Ferris Wheel, Malaga.

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A view of the Malaga cityscape from the Ferris Wheel.

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Myself and Oisin on the ferris wheel.

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On the ferris wheel.

We got the bus from Malaga to Marbella and met Donna Callaghan, an old friend of Marguerite’s from Glasgow at a cafeteria, on the journey down it was mostly coastal and we saw the most incredible sunset.  Donna welcomed us into her home, put out some food and drink, we talked and got merry.

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Sunset in Marbella.

8th, 9th, 10th January Marbella.

Over the next three days Donna took us on a tour of Marbella and San Pedro, exploring some of the best tapas bars and cafeterias, some of Donna’s favourites.  We explored a nice chunk of San Pedro and the weather was exotic and gorgeous.  Considered to be like spring over here this would compare to my Irish summer in 1995, lovely and warm with a very mild breeze.  On Saturday we visited a seaside restaurant and a tapas bar that looked like it could have been in the Caribbean coast and met some of Donna’s friends later on that day.  Also on Saturday we just walked slowly around an area of San Pedro that seemed to be full of exercise equipment, children’s playgrounds and cool walkways.  There was a skating rink and a nice wee cheerful bar playing chill out sounds and cheap beer for a Euro a cup, a great vibe.

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BAR INAKI, San Pedro.     Brendan, Marguerite, Donna and Oisin.

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A gorgeous house in San Pedro, Marbella.

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Cafeteria Heladeria, a particularly good cafe restaurant in San Pedro.

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Cool water fountain in San Pedro.

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Scrumptious chocolate cake, myself and Oisin had one each from a cafeteria in San Pedro.

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Cafe Con Leche from that same cafeteria, San Pedro.

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A restaurant on the beach, San Pedro.

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Oisin on the beach at San Pedro.

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A cool sculpture in San Pedro.

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Oisin exploring the play park in San Pedro.

On the Saturday Donna suggested we visit the supermarket as it would be closed on our final day on Sunday.  So I got my tobacco, coffee and various other things some for presents and some for myself and a twelve can pack of Sam Miguel at only 6 Euro.

Donna’s villa is a gorgeous house with marble floors, a lovely front garden and driveway and the most picturesque back garden view, looking off over to the mountains and a golf course at the back.

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Donna’s villa, Marbella.

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The view from the back of Donna’s villa, Marbella.

On the final day Sunday Donna drove us about twenty kilometres from Marbella to a mountainous village called Ojen, all the houses were in dazzling white and sprinkled all over the side of the mountain, referred to as white pueblos houses.  It was a wonderful looking place, cool narrow streets that went uphill around corners, chilled tapas bars and cafeterias, happy families and lots of dogs.

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Ojen Village, 20 km from Marbella, in the district of Malaga.

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Ojen Village.

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Ojen Village.

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A cool chilled cafeteria and bar in Ojen Village. 

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Sierra Gourmet tapas bar, some lovely food there.  Ojen Village

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Mussels served up in Sierra Gourmet, Ojen Village.

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Ojen Village.

On the final night Donna gave us each a Christmas present, laid out a feast of food and uncorked a few bottles of red wine.  We all took turns to sing some songs and talked into the small hours.  She was the perfect host and a perfect end to our Andalucia trek.

11th January Marbella – Malaga – Dublin. 

Donna drove us to Marbella bus station and waved us off as we headed to Malaga bus station and then the airport.  When we got through security I bought a bottle of Mari Mayan’s Absinthe for 20.90 Euros, rated as one of the more authentic ones, I learned how you take it proper, dilute to taste with ice cold water and watch it louche, it turns paler or opaque, kind of like the way Guinness settles from the cream.

Stepping off the plane at Dublin airport we immediately start to shiver, welcome back to wintry Ireland, now we have two and a half months to wait to get anything barely resembling Malaga’s or Marbella’s winter time.  What a fantastic break and worth checking out, Andalucia is the place to go for your late December break.

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Marguerite,Brendan, Oisin, Donna and Amanda. San Pedro 8th January.

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One of the bottles of wine consumed on 8th January.

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A church in sun splashed San Pedro.

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Cute little bar and ice rink in San Pedro.  Saturday 9th January.

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A church in the village square, Ojen Village.

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Miguel and Myself, Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

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A beautiful embellished doorway, Cordoba.

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The Alhambra, Granada.

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One of the gardens of the Alhambra, Granada.

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Oisin in the swimming pool that Donna shares with her neighbour, Marbella.

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Posing for a photo at the Guadix Caves.

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Lemon tree, Ojen Village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lawrence O’Hearn – Si l’hiver peut prendre (CD Review)

Pochette2 copy

Lawrence O’Hearn is a exemplary tin whistle player who has played around Galway and Cork during the 1990s and now currently resides in  near Quebec city in Canada.  He released his first album Si l’hiver peut prendre this year playing on it, tin whistle and baroque oboe and joined by André Marchand on guitar and  podorythmie (A form of rhythmic tapping with the feet.) and his wife, Judith Laforest on recorder.

Rather than go through the seventeen tracks in order I will do it in sections, the Irish section (reels, jigs, slip jigs and slow airs), Quebecosis section (Quebec reels and other types of tunes) and classical stately pieces.

Quebec Music.

1.) Si l’hiver peut prendre (trad. Québec) / Major Molly (Andrew Gow 1760-1803) , 4.) Nephtali Billette / Gigue du père Richard / Reel de Lévis (trad. Québec),                       7.)  Un reel d’Isidore Soucy / Un reel d’après Edmond Laliberté (trad. Québec), 9.) Bonnie Anne (trad. Ireland) / Reel Adrien St-Hilaire (trad. Québec)., 14.) Jack Delad / Popcorn / Reel de Chicoutimi (trad. Québec).           

Lawrence plays a lot of the Quebecois reels on the whistle with Marchand providing lovely simple beat kept by his feet to the music giving it a nice perky feel.  1.) Has a nice timely feel with gorgeous whistling from Lawrence, track two Major Molly is a Scottish tune by the famous fiddler Andrew Gow.  4.) This track has beautiful clear whistle playing and lovely elegant understated guitar backing as well as Marchand’s amazing rhythmic feet. 7.) I wrote about this track that the whistle playing reminded me of bumble bees darting about a summer garden.  There is something just lovely and simple about a sole tin whistle and a pair of stamping feet, what Lawrence refers to as the ‘crooked tunes’ where the beats are in three rather than the 4/4 rhythm.  Lawrence lands a nice surprise at the end of the track with a lovely turn of triplets.  9.) This track sounds familiar, that’s right I remember it from Altan’s Harvest Storm, the placement of it would be correct, a reel from County Fermanagh called Bonnie Anne which Lawrence makes his own and plays out with another reel from Quebec.  14.) This is a bunch of traditional reels from Quebec that Lawrence must have kept a keen ear on as they remind me a some well known Irish reels, the first one being  Jack Delad which reminds me of the Five Mile Chase reel and a few other familiar tunes, it seems Lawrence has found the Quebecois equivalents of these tunes and backed by the beautiful sympathetic guitar of Marchand.

Still on the Quebec/French influence of the CD there is a few other tracks with similar influences.

6.) Reel á Gastonguay.  This track has Lawrence playing baroque oboe as well as the whistle and beautiful soft guitar from Marchand.  This is slower and more stately than the usual Quebec reel selections, I would almost put this as classical courtyard music with a lovely jollity to it.

15.) Turlette de la Beauce, Old Mocassin Shuffle.  Judith Laforest, Lawrence’s wife guests on this track with the recorder.  A lovely soft bouncy number similar to Reel á Gastonguay with the tapping feet and Lawrence joining the recorder with what sounds like a low whistle, another nice stately piece.

17.) Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen.  This track is in a tribute to Mozart and is probably this most classical of all the tracks on the albums, the use of the baroque oboe lends this piece to sound like the time of Mozart’s era.  Classical music wouldn’t be my forte but there is no denying that this is a well crafted piece of music.

Irish Section

3.) Slip Jigs: Hardiman the Fiddler, Will You Come Down to Limerick. 10.)Reels:  Hare Island, Brandy’s, Buttermilk Lane (All Lawrence O’Hearn).  12.)Jigs: Snorkel Jacket Jig (Lawrence O’Hearn), L’Echelle (André Marchand).  16.) Jigs: Wheels of the World, The Brides Favourite.

3.) A nice rollicking number of slip jigs with graceful guitar backing and steady clear tin whistling from Lawrence.  10.) These tunes go back to the time I was playing sessions with Lawrence, Tak Tamura and Anders Trabjerg under the various guises of Pangaea and other projects such as the first demo project myself and Lawrence done in 1995 or thereabouts.  All these tunes are wrote by Lawrence, Hare Island is a nice spirited number that has a lovely urgency to it, Brandy’s is dedicated to one of Lawrence’s dogs, Brandy and Buttermilk Lane wrote in ode to the famous lane frequented by buskers in the city of Galway, each as graceful as the first tune and given a solid backing by Marchand.  12.) I have the credit in the sleevenotes for naming this first jig, Snorkel Jacket Jig, I think that Lawrence thought it was so off the wall naming a tune like that, that it stuck with him.  The following tune L’Echelle was composed by André Marchand.  The first tune has a jolly feeling to it, an uplifting jig played with exuberance, the following tune has a Galician type of feel to it or could that be Breton, O’Hearn and Marchand making a solid team.  16.) Lawrence plays a set of classic jigs, wheels of the World and The Brides Favourite on the solo tin whistle and its a lovely set of tunes with clear whistle playing and a sure rhythm.

Lawrence O'Hearn and his baroque obe.

Lawrence O’Hearn and his baroque obe.

Lawrence with his whistle.

Lawrence with his whistle.

Irish Slow Airs

2.)Liam O’Raghallaigh.  5.) An raibh tú ag an gCarraig.  8.) Bean dubh an ghleanna.  11.) Ni ar chnoc nó ar Ísleacht.  13.) An raibh tú ag an gCarraig.

2.) Lawrence plays the baroque oboe for this slow air, which give a beautiful different feeling to the tune, the tone and ambience is absolutely perfect, somewhere between the tin whistle timbre and that of the wooden flute or even the low whistle. 11.) Lawrence pays tribute here to the Late Donncha O’Brain by doing a lovely pure version of this slow air, he lists Donnach O’Brain has having done one of the the most influential tin whistle albums in Irish traditional music of all time and he certainly does this track justice. 8.) There is a wonderful job done of this track, it sounds like a harmonium was used for the drone, coupled with the sound of the oboe this actually sounds like a set of unusual pipes lending a lovely contemplative soundtrack to this Irish slow air. 5.) & 13.) On track 5 Lawrence plays a lovely strong whistle for this air, you just know that part of his soul is still in Ireland, be it in Galway or Cork, he just puts his heart into the music, you get the sense of sadness and the windswept rainy landscape from that simple whistle sound.  13.) He plays the same track again but this time on baroque oboe giving it a deeper more resonating feeling, its nice to hear Irish music on more unusual instruments.

You can visit Lawrence’s website here to buy his CD and find out a bit more about him and where he draws his inspirations from, long may he continue to make good music.

http://lawrenceohearn.com/Homepage.htm

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Electric Picnic 2015 Festival Review. Ireland 4th – 6th September.

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Sunday 30th August

So as per usual with a serious lack of sleep due to excitement and making sure I packed everything I hopped on the 10 o’clock Galway to Dublin Citylink commuter service bound for Kinnegad and was picked up by Lisa Lawless for the drive to Stradbally.  When we arrived we met Catherine Kehoe who wristbanded us with the pink temporary pre-event wristband.  I was going to be on the early shifts this time from 8 am – 2 pm working the crossroads for Monday and Tuesday and crew for Wednesday and Thursday.  I was thinking I maybe hit the festivities too hard as we had a feed of pints and a Chinese in Stradbally and I made the silly mistake of thinking it was still summer walking about in a tee shirt only to find it baltic when the sun slipped away.  I also woke during the night and had a good boke outside my tent which is probably not the best start to the event and probably down to lying on the inflatable mattress which made my stomach queasy.  The good thing being that most of the team last year was back, Sean, Dave, Anne Marie, campervan John (John Dooley), Lisa, Jan, Dave Curran, Cathal Johnson (Sorry I never made it to your gig), Ross (Weekend team leader) the Cork lads, Dermott, Shane and others and a few new faces such as Derek (Lisa’s husband) Anastasia, Ross, Corina (John’s friend), Jan who I met at Body & Soul festival and the like.

Monday 31st August and Tuesday 1st September.

Crossroads duty, there are numerous crossroads encircling the festival site and our main duty is to make sure that traffic adheres to the one way system, but we really are just eyes and ears looking at the four roads on each side and making sure there is no crashes and that vehicles are not driving too fast.  I think Anastasia and Ross enjoyed working with me as I had my ipod and speaker and was blasting out sounds, some of which was on the festival bill and some of which we would be hoping to see on the bill next year.  Its my firm belief that if you are listening to sounds in the background whilst working away, it is much more enjoyable experience and the time flies in better, I think the other volunteers agreed too.  On Tuesday I got stung on the face by a wasp while talking to Anastasia so off to Catherine I go to get some ointment, thankfully there wasn’t as much wasps as in the 2012 edition.

Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September.

On Wednesday I was given work in crew camp so I was supervised by Cork man Dan.  My job today was to sit at the staff campervan entrance to basically point the campervans onto the correct route and point cars up the track to the car park.  This was a very quiet job so it was a godsend that I still had juice in the old ipod and was blaring out a few Blur albums in anticipation for their Saturday night headline.  My good mate Kevin Keehan arrived today, he was due to start work at 10 am with the Soul Kids crew.  We also got wristbanded properly today which was a good feeling and that the staff trusted us to not do a disappearing act on the Thursday shift.  Thursday was a bit more busier as I was stationed at the exit road for crew camp going onto the main road and luckily I still had juice in my ipod for sounds, the security guard working across from me (At hole in the wall staff entrance) was doing this line of work for the first time and was hoping the next volunteer would also have a stereo speaker as he had another six hours to do after I finished.

John had a nice set up at his campervan, not only did he provide free tea and coffee and the use of his electricity to recharge stuff and to inflate mattresses, he brought along a projector screen, DVD player and projector too.  So we had outdoor movies too which was fantastic, The Commitments on Monday night, The Shawshank Redemption on Tuesday night and St Vincent on the Wednesday night and a ready audience of volunteers sitting in rows in front of the screen.  It was breezy the odd night so I loved how the wind sometimes would change the aspect ratio of the screen giving it a look of an upturned page of a book, it was quite cool and really added to our festivities.

Now think of the worse thing that can happen when you finish all your shifts and you are wristbanded for proper festival fun, through the duration of the night before possibly because of using my jacket as a pillow I some how broke my bank card and only discovered when using it in the Supervalu atm after my final shift that it was defective.  It was a bit awkward with my filled roll, milk and various other groceries when I had my card checked in another machine with the same results.  Thankfully another  member of festival staff who knew I had been working for the day stepped in and offered to pay for my filled roll for which I am absolutely grateful for.  When I got back to crew camp I explained my dilemma to other folk and another crew member Canadian, Jenny the Pink Lady googled my bank on her phone and discovered that a branch was open for another 45 minutes in Portlaoise and she drove me out to there, so Jenny thank you a million times again for helping me out, I was able to make a manual transaction and get an emergency payment the following day.  I took some photos over the pre-event, I was hoping to get a video of one of the marquees getting raised, but it was taking a while even though I was told that the Electric Arena marquee was raised within an hour so just took some photos instead.

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The raising of the Despacio marquee.

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Friday 4th September

Woke up at 10.30 am fairly fresh, probably helped by getting the early shifts previously, It was off to the Hendrix campsite to find the nearest merchandise vendor to pick up a lanyard and programme as I had no real idea of the stage times or what tents certain artists were in.

So off to Stradbally to get the emergency payment from Ulster Bank, a coffee and a breakfast roll from the Gala shop and a walk back to crew camp to sit at John’s campervan. This is where I got to meet Corina proper for the first time, a friend of John’s from Naas in County Kildare and where she introduced to me Orchard Thieves cider with ice in a glass, simply delicious.  She noticed that I got the festival programme and she wanted to see a particular chef in the Theatre of Food programme only to discover that he had already done his stint an hour or so earlier.

I was supposed to go to a Boards.ie meet up with folk from the Electric Picnic thread at five o’clock but was trying to locate Geoff Ward who was looking for artist accreditation area but I then realised I couldn’t do anything as it was a restricted area to me.  I was also asked by Kevin to hang around the Body & Soul area to catch his mates band, The Mud Bubble who were playing about 7 – 7.30 on the Body & Soul Bandstand stage.

Joni – Body & Soul Main Stage  5.15 – 5.45 pm

I caught a bit of this soul singer Joni resplendent in her pink jumpsuit wooing a gathering audience at the Body & Soul main stage, she has a wonderful voice and another girl on the decks providing funky beats, great uplifting music to get the party spirit going.

https://www.facebook.com/joniiiiiiiiimusic?fref=ts

Sean Sheil and friend grooving to Joni.

Sean Sheil and friend grooving to Joni.

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Thank Funk on the B&S Bandstand stage.

The Mud Bubble – Body & Soul Bandstand Stage 7 – 7.30 pm

The Mud Bubble are a live Drum N’ Bass act from County Clare who came from the ashes of another act called The Conectors which also used hip hop, reggae and drum n bass styles.  Debbie Ellen Higgins has a great voice and a very unique rapping style, she appeared a little nervous when doing the sound check but warmed to the reaction from people milling around who appreciated the sound.  Now they didn’t pull crowds in their droves but you have to take into consideration that they are a new act and the people hanging around you could tell enjoyed it, hopefully they will stay at it and build up a nice fan base.  Check out the little kid breaking out the moves to their music.  The drummer has a tremendous sense of the drum N bass technique, his drumming reminding me of the drummer with Engine Earz back at Life Festival in 2012.

https://www.facebook.com/themudbubble?fref=ts

Mud Bubble on the Body & Soul Bandstand Stage.

The Mud Bubble on the Body & Soul Bandstand Stage.

Daithi – Body & Soul Main Stage   7.30 – 8.15 pm

A short distance away at the Body & Soul main stage a rather wacky electronica was emerging, this was the first time I actually caught some music from rising DJ and traditional musician Daithi who had the natural amphitheatre filling up with eager party goers mad for some action.

https://www.facebook.com/daithimusic?fref=ts

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcaTOKmJX7WJSqj9oj5jXkQ

I figure at this point vaguely that I went to the Charcoal Grill for a steak burger to set me up for the evening, before going to check out activity at the main stage.

Late Edit: I see this constantly crop up on the forums about Electric Picnic, the infiltration of brand name tents and a younger crowd, some who were termed dickheads.  As far as I concerned this is probably coming from people who attended the old Picnics of 2005, 06,07 etc.  Do you not realise that you are just getting older, loads of young people will be turning eighteen this year, why shouldn’t they have a slice of the EP pie.  As far a brand name tents go they didn’t really bother me that much, we are all human after all and we all have sets of legs to walk away from them.  I would just give places like the tacky carnival, Cocktail Cocktail bar, the 3 mobile place, E-Lite area the swerve and walk to the areas I liked anyway.  In fact I think they should add more next year as it acts like a magnet for the youngsters happy to hang about the areas with shit dance music.  It means that areas like Body & Soul, Electric Arena, Rankins, Cosby, Despacio and Salty Dog will be potentially dickhead free because they will want to hang about the tacky brand areas.  Bar the Bacardi Bar as that does get some reasonable line ups of good DJs.

Grace Jones – Main Stage  8.45 – 10 pm

Having caught some of the Grace Jones set at the Electric Arena in 2008 I was intrigued to how she would go down on the main stage this year.  I forgot that she has a mountain of hits from the 1980s and was the perfect recipe for the Friday night partying.  A sizeable number had gathered to hear the classic hits of Pull up to the Bumper, Walking in the Rain, Night Clubbing.  Intoxicating reggae inspired funk and pop with a few costume changes and some really cool classy lights and effects.   My videos don’t really do the show any justice as I was too far away to properly take in the spectacle with my smaller camera, I should have taken it with the Nikon where I could’ve focused it at bit more clearly.

https://www.facebook.com/GraceJonesOfficial?fref=ts

Myself and Kevin just stuck around for the oncoming Underworld set to follow, also in attendance was John Dooley, Anne Marie, Catherine Kehoe, Ross and various others.

Underworld – Main Stage  10.30 pm – 12 am

This was my third time catching this act and all at previous Picnics too, They were a perfect main stage closer with their pulsating electronica, reeling out the classics such as Rez, Born Slippy, Into the Blood and loads of other classics.  I always thought they would be more suited to closing the main stage for Saturday night where tradition used to dictate a late night rave act for the Saturday closer but nothing wrong with a bit of change either. There was a few notable causalities during the gig with some seriously inebriated people which is bound to happen out of the 50,000 attending.  The most likely scenario being that some of these folk tried to smuggle their booze into the main arena but failed and drunk it there and then rather than trek all the way back to their tent.  A girl was dragged from the front into the mixing desk area by security who was lapsing into unconsciousness and required medical aid, luckily she came around and was helped up to the medical tent.  My one regret about Friday night was completely forgetting about Belle & Sebastian’s set in the Electric Arena which clashed with Underworld and this coming from an exiled Scot.

http://www.underworldlive.com/

Myself and Kevin headed into the Body & Soul area for a while but it had grown increasingly chilly with a cool breeze blowing so we set for Trenchtown which provided a bit more shelter and stayed there until close, soaking up the various stages the Live Inna Yard stage with Karma Parking, Colonial FX and Braintheft with Oisin Daly providing the live stuff and the Treasure Beach stage with Will Softly and DJ Dodgy.  I managed to get some video clip and nice photos of Trenchtown with my small camera.

https://www.facebook.com/TrenchtownIrieLand?fref=ts

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

Trenchtown.

We retreated to the confines of Kevin’s tent for the final few cans for the night and a few smokes, quite a content first night of EP 2015.

Saturday 5th September

Had a bit more of a lie in this morning and took a trip to the Gala in Stradbally for a pick me up cup of coffee.

Miriam Donohue – Oxjam Tent  2 – 2.30 pm

I wanted to get into the arena a bit earlier today as I endeavoured to catch an old Galway flatmate of mine, Miriam Donohue who was playing a half hour set at the Oxjam stage in the main arena.  Unfortunately my Nikon camera was playing up and didn’t record the clip properly so I whipped out the smaller one to film the rest of the track.  I would have recorded more of the set but was held up at the Hendrix phone queue waiting to drop the ipod in for a recharge.  Miriam’s style would be s soft unplugged acoustic style in a similar vein to Natalie Prass, Joni Mitchell but strong in her own originality.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/miriamdonohue

I was a little excited today which was understandable, my friends GIRO were going to be performing on the Body & Soul main stage and they wanted me to guest with them for two sets of tunes with my tambourine bodhran, so this would be my first time performing on a stage at Electric Picnic, so how could I not be excited.

GIRO – Body & Soul Main Stage   4 – 4.30 pm

GIRO: Galway International Retro Orchestra are a band with a flair for Irish traditional music, Klezmer and wild gypsy music.  They struck upon an original idea that stretches far back to the migrant 1920s/30s in New York, the cultures that were attracted to the Big Apple, its burgeoning Jewish population and settled gypsy population and the Irish diaspora that also travelled to New York.  GIRO take all the musical influences from this period and make it into their own original sound.  The band had a nice number of spectators who soaked up the sounds at Electric Picnic and a few breaking into a step.

https://www.facebook.com/girogalway?fref=ts

I went along for a wander around Body & Soul and the main arena with GIRO, GIRO are Anders Trabjerg (box), Kyle Borley (Vocals, flute, piccolo and whistle), Geoff Ward (Banjolin, sax and clarinet) and Mayo Yanachi (Fiddle).  We took in the sights and sounds of the festival, a wandering drum troupe, yummy food stalls, the shenanigans at the Jerry Fish tent and meeting all sorts of crazy characters wandering about the festival.

In the course of wandering about with my buddies I missed a few acts on the main stage such as Future Islands and War on Drugs, but I’m sure these bands will come around some time again, I think Picnic time is more important sometimes to spend with good friends as well as catching the odd act.  When Anders and Mayo had to leave as they had to get back to Galway to pay the babysitter, I took a trip back to the crew camp for a wee rest and to resupply myself with more Guinness goodness, a much needed break before the madness with Jon Hopkins and all that followed.

We wandered back into the main arena about 9.15 to try and catch a bit of the Chvrches set, in through the iron gate and up one of the short cut paths near the volunteers office and right down to the Cosby Tent which is so handy, it would take the best part of 20 – 25 minutes to reach the Electric Arena the usual way through the throng of people, so these volunteer short cuts are invaluable sometimes to actually make a set or to just catch a set.

Chvrches – Electric Arena    9 – 10 pm.

Chvrches were about half way through their set when we arrived, they had quite a quirky electronic and rocky sound about them, Lauren Mayberry at times reminded me of a young Madonna or even Cyndi Lauper, she had a sweet shrill voice and I’m glad to say I did catch one Scottish band from Glasgow at the festival (Sorry again Belle & Sebastian). Chvrches had a nice draw of an audience and a nice clean electronic sound, a solid pop but with rocky edges.  This was my first time catching them live and it won’t be my last time either.

http://www.chvrch.es/

It was handy that Rankin Woods was the next tent as this left us with fifteen minutes of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) who was finishing his set next door, my appetite for rap and hip hop had grown since Outkast last year and Nas at Life festival this year.

Yasiin Bey  – Rankin Woods Stage   9.30 – 10.15 pm.

I don’t have much to go on here as I have none of this artists albums but the crowd packed into the tent suggests that this guy has a fairly legendary status.  His music anyway came across as more of old school than modern hip hop and the particular track I caught a clip of had a nice old time jazz fusion feel to it.  He also came across as fairly articulate in his wordspeak and his backer on the beats had a classy sound.  This gig was also getting me in the mood for tomorrow when Jurassic 5 will be belting it out on the main stage. I was so glad anyway to have caught at bit of Yasiin Bey’s set.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mos_Def

I don’t know about you the reader but I always find when you are in the area of a must see artist its always advisable to hang around the front after the previous artist, in this case it was Jon Hopkins who is one of my top listening pleasures, so, I was in the right place at the right time, bring it on.

Jon Hopkins – Rankin Woods   11 pm – 12 am

Hopkins just keeps getting better and better, ever since I saw the Glastonbury set on the iplayer I’ve even been more hooked and have obsessed over this guy since, the performance tonight did not let me down, the sound was absolutely perfect, you could have built a house on top of the bass, it was that good.  I simply can’t wait to this new album he is working on which he is hoping to release at the end of February next year, so hint hint to family and friends my birthday is on the 18th February.  Open Eye Signal never gets tiring in fact it has become more fired the more I hear it, some of the new material is really nice too, Halo seems to be inspired and realised from the slower Collider, great scrunchy and glitchy tracks like Two Dancers (Jon Hopkins Remix) (Wild Beasts Cover) just power on like nothing else.  Yep! Hopkins is my absolute highlight of EP 2015 and he probably had the best sound of the festival too, much to the detriment of the headliners in the Cosby Tent, Low or so I read about anyway and isn’t it bloody typical that not one second of his performance is featured in the RTE broadcast of the festival.

http://www.jonhopkins.co.uk/

Blur – Main Stage   11.30 pm – 1.30 am.

Myself and Kevin tried to take the short cut from the Cosby Tent to the main stage for Blur but we got chased away with another crew member by a security guard, so we just walked by the merchandise stand direction which is not actually that far and entered the main stage throng to the left of the main stage, so left but slightly centre to get a good view, the screens really help in this respect.  Blur were about halfway through the Beetlebum track when we showed up, there was a nice smattering of tracks and classics from their well known albums and some of the tracks from the new album The Magic Whip blended in nicely too.  There was a stage invasion for Parklife, well, Damon invited everyone onto the stage but it created a great party atmosphere.  Hit after hit reeled through the night Song 2 had us headbanging madly (reminds me of the energy of the Butthole Surfers or Sonic Youth), Tender created about a few thousand sore throats singing along in unison to Damon, Girls & Boys (like Blur’s take on a Bowie style track), She’s so High mixed in with Whip numbers like Thought I was a Spaceman, Ong Ong and There are too many of us.  I thought they put on a really amazing show and I’m glad to have caught Blur for the first time live, brilliant stuff.  I’m also chuffed that RTE filmed the first seven tracks so I got to see the first part of the concert I missed in Favour of Jon Hopkins, so I get the best of both worlds.

http://www.blur.co.uk/

We repaired to the Body & Soul arena for a while in search of some ambient techno from Donal Dineen, its become tradition now for us to catch a bit of his set during the weekend, but man, once we came out of the main stage throng you could feel the cold big time, a fairly cold breeze blowing over wide open spaces that would freeze the balls off you.  Donal Dineen had a great crowd gathered and as usual his music was infectious, he really knows how to put the sounds into a party momentum.  The DJ that followed Donal, Neil Finn also put on a great set of ambient techno, but we split about 3.30 am as I thought I was going to turn into an iceberg with the cold, so back to the confines of Kevin’s tent for some more beers and a good smoke.  My disaster for Saturday night was leaving down my beautiful Body & Soul water flask which happened to be full of Captain Morgans and Coke to put on my ipod and speaker walking back to crew camp and forgetting to pick up the flask again, only realising when I was sitting in Kevin’s tent, so that was a small pisser for a mostly enjoyable night.  I suppose people loose things all the time at festivals but I wish it wasn’t the Body and Soul water flask that Mikey Joyride Soro gave me at Body & Soul festival.

https://www.facebook.com/DonalDineen

Gorgeous decorations over the Earthship Stage.

Gorgeous decorations over the Earthship Stage.

Donal Dineen giving it the ambient unz at Earthship Stage.

Donal Dineen giving it the ambient unz at Earthship Stage.

Sunday 6th September

Woke about 11 am and headed up to the Gala shop in Stradbally to get a coffee, I find it strange that the main camp sites are full of food stalls and cafes yet no one thinks of setting up one at the crew camp which doesn’t make sense, You’d think Mocca Bean with their franchise would have one there, as there would be extra bucks to be made.  I met various folks from Galway during the weekend, Doran and his girlfriend, Ciaran and Jackie and loads of folk from my working festival past like Micheal, Michelle who landed a nice cushy number working with Body & Soul on the Bandstand Stage and various other folk who I’ve forgot the name of again ha ha.

Legend – Main Stage 2.30 – 3.15 pm.

Now Legend were a colourful Rastafari lot with concert lights to match the Jamaican colours, they were basically a Bob Marley covers band and good tight versions of the classics too but I couldn’t help thinking that it was almost a replica of the Wailers set from last year so a bit of a lazy booking there by Electric Picnic.  Especially when One Love festival in the UK was on, on the same weekend, why not Steel Pulse who played Glastonbury this year or Dawn Penn, both playing One Love festival.  Saying that Legend were entertaining enough.

http://www.legendlive.co.uk/leonie.html

Legend on the Main Stage, Sunday.

Legend on the Main Stage, Sunday.

Legend.

Legend.

We went to the Mindfield area to source a place showing the Galway/Kilkenny game, we settled for the News talk tent which had a reasonable size screen but there was too many people there already and could hardly see any of the action.  Galway played great for the first half and showed promise, but come the second half and they lost their power, also the people watching it swelled so we decided to go to the main stage to catch some of Jurassic 5’s set.

Jurassic 5 – Main Stage   3.45 – 4.45 pm.

Jurassic 5 is another lot I know very little about but they were hugely entertaining with their lively hip hop, I actually thought they were much more entertaining than the Wu Tang Clan from two years ago.  And of course they had DJ Nu-Mark in the ranks who I saw at Life festival this year and who is a turntablist legend, so a good time party hip hop group to crank your hangover away to, worth checking out if you get a chance.

http://jurassic5.com/

We headed back to the crew camp for a rest, well I couldn’t sleep as I could hear about three stages in the main arena where I was, in fact I enjoyed Django Django’s set from my tent which I could hear crystal clear from the Electric Arena and they seemed to of cracked it too with the audience’s reactions, having seen them at Body & Soul festival in 2012, I didn’t mind missing them for the sake of my feet anyway.   I forgot I still had a quarter bottle of Morgans and some coke left so I indulged in some of that.  I gave Kevin a shout about 8 pm and it didn’t look like he was going to wake up proper for a while so I just headed off into the arena myself, stopping off at the Hendrix Londis shop to get an emergency pack of Amber Leaf tobacco just in case I ran out.

Late Edit: I nearly forgot to mention this, I checked out the Despacio tent a few times during the weekend, the first time I took a gander in was on the Friday.  It was a nice unusual tent for Electric Picnic, darker inside and very subtly lit, I walked around having a look at the gigantic speaker racks and went up to the window booth to have a wee stare at James Murphy and the lads from 2ManyDJs, I reckon Murphy was staring back at me wondering who this guy was wandering about the dance floor with a circular instrument (My bodhran) hanging from my back.  The second time was Sunday evening before I met Kevin after his power nap in the camp site, I whipped out my Nikon camera to take a few minutes clip of the dance floor and speaker cabinets.  The music was certainly different from all the other places of entertainment at the festival, both times I was there you could say it was dance music, a bit more downbeat and I seem to get an impression that Murphy and 2ManyDJs are big David Byrne and Talking Heads fans, the music reminded me to an extent of David Byrne’s and Brian Eno’s album My Life in a Bush of Ghosts at times it came across as a post industrial funk with a slow timely dance beat.

https://www.facebook.com/despaciosoundsystem

About half an hour later I ran into Kevin again so he got up quicker than I thought, we decided to take the crew short cut again to make the start of FKA twigs set at the Electric Arena.

FKA twigs – Electric Arena    9 – 10 pm.

FKA twigs were a different kind of sound, sometimes quite a downbeat trip hop sound and at other times incredibly mesmeric trippy mad electronica.  I was initially put off by her first three numbers being too downbeat but that quickly changed through the set. Tahliah Debrett Barnett has a beautiful voice that can reach amazing heights, I would put her up there with Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins and Alison Goldfrapp.  She is also the most amazing dancer and choreographer I’ve seen in a long time, in fact in one track she was incredibly sexy in her moves turning it into an art form.  For someone I virtually know nothing about but loads of people telling me to go and see her, she is without doubt my new discovery of the festival this year even though I was vaguely aware of her from some Glastonbury footage.  So a FKA twigs CD will be working its way into my music collection very soon.

http://fkatwi.gs/

Paul Kalkbrenner – Rankin Woods   9 – 10.30 pm.

We nipped over next door to Rankin Woods to catch the last half hour of Paul Kalkbrenner’s set, I always wanted to see Paul Kalkbrenner ever since I saw the video clips from the last time he played the Picnic and seeing what I was missing which looked amazing.  He played good hard hitting techno which I had not really experienced this weekend as such unless you count Underworld who had a good hard hitting sound and Jon Hopkins who is his own thing completely, although still good crunchy techno too.  I couldn’t help thinking, how come Kalkbrenner has never played Rave in the Woods, his music is just as good as Klock’s, Sharpe’s and Joy Orbison’s.  Anyway I was glad to catch a bit of Kalkbrenner’s set.

http://paulkalkbrenner.net/home/

Florence and the Machine – Main Stage   10.30 pm – 12 am.

I enjoyed the four or five songs I saw of Florence while wandering about the main stage area and I can see why she is so popular.  A fiery red head who could probably play a good version of Granuaille if they ever made a movie about the Irish sea pirate.  She has a nice folk quality to her voice, in her softer moments she does remind me of the singing of the Late Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention.  If Robert Plant ever decided to do The Battle of Evermore again, I would choose Florence to sing the female part.  Florence had the audience eating from her hand and she is a great entertainer, but for me I still prefer the lushness of Natasha Khan myself and the beautiful sound of Bat for Lashes.  I would include the video clip I took but have just spotted that Florence is on the UMG roster so I don’t want to risk another copyright strike in my Youtube account after what happened with the Crystal Castles clip from EP 2012.

http://florenceandthemachine.net/

Tame Impala – Electric Arena   10.45 pm – 12 am.

Tame Impala were another sort of new discovery for me although I did watch their full set on the Lollapalooza video stream, they looked pretty interesting with trippy colours in their back screen projections.  The Australian group has three albums behind them now with Currents the third one getting the showcasing on this tour.  They seem to have a lot of influences in their music like the Beatles, Kinks and Small Faces.  There was one track in particular The Moment I think its called that reminds me of the phasing tricks in the Small Faces Itchycoo Park.  Some of their tracks have a good solid 1970s hard rock sound that you don’t really hear any more, another thing that Tame Impala is bringing back to rock music is the singing in harmonies like the style Pink Floyd used to do.  And the colours, the back projections had some of the most shimmering psychedelic colours.  A thoroughly amazing show and another great discovery, thank you Electric Picnic and Tame Impala, so possibly another 3 Tame Impala CDs will be following FKA twigs into my music collection.

http://www.tameimpala.com/

Kevin split for the Body & Soul area and I decided to check out the Rave in the Woods as I hadn’t being up there this weekend yet, if the craic was good I would stay on there, but I also had plans to take in a bit of King Kong Company’s set at Salty Dog and maybe saunter in to Trenchtown too as I had friends from Galway closing a stage there too.  I bumped into a Galway friend Anna on the way so done a little detour in the Oscar Wilde camp site to her tent for a few doobies and met some Derry folk who were her nearby tent neighbours.  Twas good craic and it was great to get a seat with a back for half an hour or so.  They had a nice wee camp fire going which didn’t have camping chairs or tents in it, like I heard of reports about happening in the Hendrix camp site.  I never seen that shit happening in the Hendrix before when I was last staying there in 2013 so that wasn’t a pleasant report to hear about.

I eventually made my way to the Rave in the Woods and it was more like funky cheesy stuff that was emitting from the Red Bull speakers, I forgot that Red Bull had changed direction this year to a sort of deep house, it just didn’t feel the same.  No familiar lasers etching the trees nor that familiar thump! thump! that I’ve got so used to for the last two years at Rave in the Woods.  Ah well I thought, King Kong Company it is then.  Hopefully they will bring back some techno for next year or even some dubstep and drum N Bass as well.

King Kong Company – Salty Dog    1.35 – 3 am.

King Kong Company had a great crowd who was mad to party the whole night through, only catching a bit of their set they had a glorious set of wild riffs and ravey beats on the go.  Mark Graham was in such a good buzz and thanked the audience and Salty Dog avidly for a great end to their summer.  I’m looking forward to reading his crazy adventures into festival land sometime.  But King Kong Company is a great way to end part of the festival off in the Salty Dog, they do Waterford proud to have such a rocking good fun band and are always the life and soul of festivals that they play.

Kevin gave me a text to say he was in Trenchtown so I made my way there to catch the last hour of live entertainment the festival had to offer.

The Dub Doctor & MC Rungus – Live Inna Yard Stage Trenchtown  1.15 – 3 am.

Caught a bit of Donal Dubdoctor and his Galway friends, Geoff Ward on sax and various other things and Brendan Rungus on vocals and another fellah on congos.  A great live dubby sound with Brendan singing and MCing  to close proceedings on the Trenchtown live stage.  A nice sound to skank away to in the early hours.  I also managed to work out a lift from Geoff in the afternoon tomorrow back to Galway so all good.

It was back to Kevin’s for our final night cap before hitting the hay in my own tent.

Monday 7th September.

I awoke late enough at about 11.50 am to find a missed call and text from Geoff asking where I was, this got me a little worried as I thought he may have just left as he couldn’t get in touch, what was worse was that my phone was nearly dying and I had about 25 cent credit left, I tried ringing him a few times but no joy.  He eventually got in touch about half an hour later (phew!) to say he was still onsite so we agreed to meet at Supervalu in Stradbally.  I just had too much to carry to make that trek so I left my camping chair and inflatable mattress in Kevin’s tent as he was working the breakdown for Soul Kids for Monday and his mattress was punctured, mine was in fairly good condition so I thought he would make better use of it.

Oddly enough, back in Galway Kevin messaged me on Facebook the following day, it turns out that when he knocked off his shift at 5 pm on Monday he discovered that someone had nicked his entire tent and mattresses.  Now that is a weird shit thing to happen at the end of your festival especially in the most guarded camp site of the festival, I felt so bad for Kevin.

Anyway until next year, thank you Electric Picnic for another fabulous edition, until next year roll on Electric Picnic 2016.

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Body & Soul Festival 2015 Review, 19th – 21st June, Ireland

DSC04439Sunday 14th June

So second festival of the year and up at the crack of dawn at six in the morning to catch the 7.30 am Galway to Dublin commuter bus, this time the destination was Kinnegad in County Westmeath where my friend and fellow Electric Picnic volunteer from last year, Lisa Lawless kindly gave me a lift to the Ballinlough Castle festival site.

I had to work twenty four hours to gain my wristband for the festival, I was working from 2 pm till 8 pm for the Sunday, 8 pm to 2 pm on Monday and 8 am to 8 pm on Tuesday so two six hour shifts and one twelve hour shift and after that I was free to wander about the festival site taking photos, videos and talking to the other workers setting up the decorations and the festival build.

I basically came with my camping equipment and all the necessaries for the festival stay but it would have been too awkward to bring beer and food too, so I planned to hitch to one of the towns on Monday to remedy the situation.  My job was working the two way radio, this time I was stationed at the top of the road leading down to the Boneyard, so my job was to radio ahead when heavy vehicles, vans and lorries with important equipment arrived, to check if the paths were clear to send them down.  I also directed people seeking accreditation, meetings and briefings to the car park behind me where they had to walk down to the site to prevent the boneyard from being clogged up with traffic or traffic parking where they liked and unnecessarily blocking festival deliveries.

So far, so good, I remembered to take my ipod and speaker with me as sometimes the work can be dull, boring and quiet during the earlier part of the week, I find that music in the background helps me concentrate and work better, it also creates a nice festival vibe for people arriving on the festival site.

As each day progressed it was getting noticeably busier, Monday flew in and by 2 pm I had a hunger so I paid the nine euro for a meal in the crew catering restaurant making sure to take a fine dollop of the salad too and a few coffees.  I also decided to hitch to the nearest town, Clonmellon to get food supplies and a crate of Guinness.

I learnt from last year to always hitch from the production gate as there was always vehicles leaving from there and was lucky to get a lift straight away to the town.  Man, this was a big mistake, Clonmellon had nothing of convenience whatsoever, no atm to check my bank balance, two basic provision shops with no cans of beer for sale and not even proper supermarkets, no packed sandwiches, no deli, individual cereal bars, not packs of cereal bars so very expensive.  I got five cereal bars, a pint of milk, there was no king size bags of peanuts just small ones, so got two of these, two packets of tobacco and cigarette papers the whole lot came to 19.50 Euros of which I got cash back so that I had another spare twenty Euro to spend at the restaurant onsite.  What was worse was that I was dying of bloody thirst and not one of the three or four bars in the town was open.  I even joked with the shop assistant that no wonder buses don’t stop at this town.

This left me a bit perturbed about what to do about the situation and left me with no doubt that outside of this heavenly paradise of Body & Soul, this part of Westmeath was hell, and it gets worse ladies and gentlemen.  I walked half the way back hitching with about thirty cars racing by me on such narrow roads, a dangerous place to be hitching, eventually I was picked by some tourists who dropped me at the 1 km sign to Ballinlough.

When I got back to the festival site I endeavoured to find a better equipped town as I really wanted a celebratory can of Guinness in the beloved crew camp plus I wanted to at least get two packets of packed sandwiches to get me through the twelve hours the following day.  I tried to source a lift with the rest of the crew onsite hopefully someone who was leaving and coming back.  Myself and another volunteer also called Niall heard that security in Gate E the crew camp entrance were due to finish at 8 pm and they were local so they kindly offered us a lift with them to the Daybreak garage in the outskirts of Delvin. If I recall Delvin, it was a pretty enough town with a few historical buildings but with nearly as little shops as Clonmellon.

When we got to the garage, lo and behold there was Guinness, but still no atm to find out my bloody balance, worse still, there was no deli and no pre-packed sandwiches, the only thing I could buy for eating was refrigerated packets of crumpets and some fruit. Myself and Niall then walked back the complete distance of 6.5 kilometres back to the festival site, absolutely tired out and not a soul out of the fifty cars or so that passed offered a lift, I lost a little hope in humanity that day and cursed Westmeath for the hellhole that it is.

Finally the long shift came and it was the busiest of the days so far, my selection of tunes for the day was the first Aphex Twin Soundcloud dump, about a five to six hour file of his outtakes and unreleased tracks from the early to late 1990s.  I would play the music every second hour or so to save the battery and it killed the time greatly.  We had two twenty minute breaks over the twelve hours, a girl was covering for all of us a various times from 2 pm onwards, I got my first break at 3.30 so I ran down to the restaurant but it was closed after serving lunch and I was bloody starving, I managed to scrounge of coffee from the staff at the side of the restaurant though which I paid for.

Now I’m not one to harp on about the food token system but a wee sandwich and a coffee wouldn’t have gone amiss, although in fairness Brian brought me a coffee when I so needed it on Monday. Where were these lovely pizza slices this year, Megan, that yourself and the wonderful and generous Zed gave me when I done the twelve hour shift on the Sunday last year I say this with a slight strop on me, mind you I was the only volunteer I think on a shift that day, come to think of it, where is Zed?  Body and Soul is not right without Zed, come back man. Thank god for Kev’s Kitchen in the crew camp as I ate some great meals there throughout the week and they probably done the best coffees of the festival too.  Its not so bad for weekend volunteers as the festival has started and there are plenty of food stalls open then, but it is harder for volunteers working the advance especially the twelve hour one and even though the work is easy enough it was hot weather to be working out in.

For the next few days I just wandered about the site taking photos of people at work and some of the beautiful decorations appearing in the wood.

Kev's Kitchen.

Kev’s Kitchen.

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Decor girls at work.

Decor girls at work.

Decorations destined for the woods.

Decorations destined for the woods.

The build in the Walled Garden.

The build in the Walled Garden.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Body & Soul this year was a reuniting of people I worked with over the last few years at Life, Body & Soul and Electric Picnic, there was Dave Curran from EP and Liss Ard festivals from the last few years, Fionn Brooks and Shane, Phelim, Patrick Long, Kevin Keehan who worked all three festivals and possibly more, Mikey Joyride Soro who gave me that wonderful Body & Soul metal flask of which only two hundred was made as gifts for pre-event staff.  There was Megan Best, Toby Hatchet, Ray and many others too, although Abdul the security guard from Life was missing.  And a whole bunch of others when the festival kicked off such as Ciaran and Jackie, Geoff Ward, Aminah and Phil, Nidge, Ben and Laurie Purkiss and loads of others. Brian Watters, Sharlene from the festival traffic management team and our volunteer coordinator, Sharon Cronin.   Also thank you to the lovely girls in the crew camp who took my bank card out to Mullingar and withdrew forty Euro for me when I really needed it on Wednesday.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man worker.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man.

Ray.

Ray.

Patrick Long.

Patrick Long.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

The Volunteer tent.

The Volunteer tent.

Brian Watters.

Brian Watters.

Sharlene and Brian.

Sharlene and Brian.

Ballinlough Castle.

Ballinlough Castle.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

Thursday 18th June.

You are probably thinking at this stage that I’ve not reached the fecking music yet, but this is as much about the volunteering experience and the music will come in time too. Thursday things started to get really busy, all the weekend volunteers arrived onsite in the glorious sunshine.  Simon Outram, Conor Dolan, James Fahy, Danyl Hartshorn and his girlfr Samantha, Tracy Webbstar, Fluffy, Chris Lavelle, Louise Borre, Craig who was working with Kevin at Soul Kids, Jan Huisman from Holland who was volunteering at his first Irish festival and many others.  I also got a chance through Kevin to visit the Soul Kids area before it became restricted in the weekend to families with the B&S family ticket, I also got a chance to revisit the Gameltron (bigger this time round) and Holistic area.  Thursday night a bunch of us went exploring the woods and the main arena, some of the stages were blasting out music and testing their systems, we hung about the Port Royal reggae area for a while but eventually got chased out of there as there was still work to be done in preparation for the festival.  By far the most impressive sound system on Thursday night was the Absolut Art Bar who were blasting out Moderat tracks from the groups two albums and we got to see a bunch of acrobats rehearsing in the centre which was pretty amazing.  I never did catch them in full flow during the festival but I was well impressed with the Absolut stage, it blended into Body & Soul perfectly.  Worst tent was the Vodafone tent, a white basic tent, for gods sake, try and blend in people.

The Absolut Art Bar.

The Absolut Art Bar.

Simon Outram.

Simon Outram.

Louise Borre.

Tracy Webbstar, Craig, Louise Borre.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

James Fahy and Conor.

James Fahy and Conor.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Friday 19th June.

DSC04396

Finally the weekend arrived and with it apparently anything from one and a half to three hours queues from the car park to the main camp site, or so I heard anyway.  Finally there was an atm onsite and the festival hadn’t opened yet so no long queue to withdraw cash as yet.  I made off to the Pig Tails food stall for a full Irish breakfast in the main stage arena and chilled at the camp site till the festival opened up proper.  Dave Curran was finishing his first shift at 8 pm and he said he was going on a beer run, the joys of having someone with a car, I needed to replenish some Guinness myself so said I would meet up with him then.

Grounds For Invasion – Midnight Court 6.45 – 7.15 pm.

Grounds for Invasion is described as a mix of trip-hop, electro-pop, industrial and post rock and Tracy Friel and Will O’Connor are the brains behind the sound.  They had an expansive electronic sound alright and the cool lights and visual backdrop of the Midnight Circus tent led an otherworldly feel to the whole gig, Friel has a nice soulful feel to her vocals and the group reminded me of a main stage act from Life Festival 2013 called White Collar Boy.  I didn’t stay for the full set as I wanted to take in a much acts on the opening night as possible so that I had a balance of some rock and some electronica music.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/groundsforinvasion

The next hour or two was spent going on the beer run, waiting for Dave to check out from his shift, getting to the Delvin garage where I got me two cases of Guinness, tobacco, some extra skins and the walk back to the crew camp, where we rested and had a few cans before going back into the arena at 10.30 pm.

Steven Sharp & the Broke Straight Boys – Bulmer’s Lounge 10.45 – 11.15 pm.

I really enjoyed this mad Galway rock group with a dash of the camp, Steven Sharp and the Broke Straight Boys.  Steven Sharp was in drag and set the outrageous tone with some campish high energy punk rock, comedy and theatrical madness. They were a perfect Body & Soul fixture and I’m very glad to have caught some of their set, I think Dave was impressed were their crazy set too.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/stevensharpe

New Jackson – Midnight Court 10.45 – 11.45 pm.

Dublin DJ New Jackson has been described by Resident Advisor as a producer who makes nocturnal house with a ghostly disco tint.  I caught the last quarter of his set where he had a healthy rammed Midnight Court audience in the palm of his hands, the heat inside the tent was intense with limbs moving avidly and hands punching the air to his housey electronica, I think New Jackson is worthy of further investigation.

http://www.newjackson.com/

Savages – Main Stage 11.30 pm – 12.05 am

This London band seemed fairly familiar and then I remembered seeing them on the Jools Holland Show a few years ago, described as post-punk revival and noise rock, they did had a violent jaggy energy about them. lead singer Jehnny Beth is a powerful vocalist with a hard driving set of musicians, they didn’t have a packed stage but there was a good four to five hundred gathered so more of a cult audience but they packed a punch.  Their set a mixture of stuff culled from EPs and their 2013 album, Silence Yourself, a good sub headliner before Lamb.

http://savagesband.com/

A short journey back to crew camp to get some more cans, have a brief sit down and a chat to whoever was there at the time and back into the Arena to catch a bit of the Lamb set.

Lamb – Main Stage 1 – 2 am

This was my first time catching Lamb who have been around for years since the mid-nineties anyway, its kinda hard to describe their sound, indie electronic rock ballads if that makes any sense at all.  Lou Rhodes has a strong powerful voice, at times almost in a kinda folky vein and Andy Barlow provides some tasteful electronica to the sound.  But after a while it was a wee bit too slow for me and wanted something with a bit more thump and lively so headed up to the Midnight Court to catch the last twenty minutes of the Talaboman set.

http://lambofficial.com/

Talaboman – Midnight Court 11.50 pm – 1.50 am

Talaboman is two Spanish DJs known as John Talabot and Axel Bowman who play a mixture of house and techno and tech-house too, they had a great sound pumping and a fairly packed tent, this is one of the many collaborations happening this year and seems to be getting popular, with the likes of Braekes (Mr Ozio and Boys Noise) or SiriusModselektor (Siriusmo and Modeselektor) at Life Festival.  The electronic duo made for an excellent close to the Midnight Court for the Friday night.

Upcoming Tour Dates

It was when making tracks back through to the wood from the main arena that I realised how packed it was, streams of people coming in both directions, I felt it was over the capacity the festival could handle, security had to be posted in the middle of the crowd to free the flow and prevent collisions, making parts of the path for each direction.  I turned back into the arena again as I intended to spend the last few hours in the Port Royal area, but kept forgetting the entrance was not in the wood this time but the main arena.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Revelation Sound featuring Rankin Fox – Port Royal 12.50 – 4 am.

This was a nice mix of roots reggae songs and dub reggae, so nice to chill to this mix of sounds, I met various randomers where we talked about Body & Soul, the Picnic and various other festivals, some familiar faces, Ben and Laurie, Conor and Simon among others.  Security ushered everyone out come four am, so a reverse back to the security style of 2013 although the free-flow alcohol policy was still in place, last year you could wander aimlessly about the arena and woods any time, we were up to eight in the morning last year wandering about the arena.  Still,  I can’t complain twas a good night of sounds.

https://www.facebook.com/RevelationSoundSystem

Back to the camp site where I sat down at Kevin’s tent listening to Leftfield tracks and smoking a few and some cans of porter and eventually up to my own tent at about 5.30 in the morning, some of the neighbours still awake and partying, a good night.

Saturday 20th June.

Kev’s Kitchen was still doing coffees in the mornings of the festival which was absolutely perfect as it was only a few steps from my tent, it was also popular with Kevin my mate, the coffee guaranteed to bring you into wakefulness fairly quickly and it was quite a cute set up with the three filter holes cut into the table and the coffee being let to drip in the cup.

This was also the second morning I made a trip to the Charcoal Grill at the front of the Walled Garden for a steak burger, one of the sure delicious things to set you up proper for the day, I seemed to influenced Dave on Friday night and Kevin on Saturday morning that a steak burger was the way to go, there is a wee concrete seat just down from the food stall that was perfect to sit on and was always empty.

The weather for the weekend had been mostly perfect and almost as good as last year, some small rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and a small bit in Friday morning, but mainly sunny and dry or a bit cloudy and dry, certainly a lot warmer than Life festival three weeks before.  Myself and Kevin thought it a good idea to make a trip to Port Royal for some soothing reggae sounds.

Will Softly – Port Royal  12 – 2 pm.

Will was playing reggae classics such as Dawn Penn, Marley, Peter Tosh, Andy Capp, Desmond Dekker & the Israelites and Toots and the Maytals among others, lovely music to achieve that soft bouncy skank for the afternoon.  The sun would stream in and light parts of the reggae arena up beautifully, although Kevin did note that because the area was surrounded with trees it could be quite shady, windy and cool in there too.

So we made the decision to go out into the main arena to get a bit more of the sun, for the time of the afternoon it was getting steadily busy with plenty of people letting go to the funk blasting out of the cool ice cream van in the Bulmer’s area of the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

I used this time to walk about the woods and to take photos of some of the fine work of the Decor people and their volunteers had taken long hours pre-festival to complete.

DSC04362

DSC04368

The Reckless in Love Stage.

The Treehaus Stage formerly known as Reckless in Love .

A cute kid and their luxury mode of travel.

A cute kid and his luxury mode of travel.

First live music of the day for me was catching a wee bit of Asgeir’s set at the Body & Soul main stage around early Saturday evening.

Asgeir – Main Stage 6 – 7 pm.

Icelander Asgeir and his band had a variety of styles, folky rock ballads and some interesting electronica sounds in the mix, some of it reminding me of John Grant’s set last year, it was only when I read up on Asgeir in the Wikipedia page that I realised the John Grant had some hand in producing Asgeir’s album In the Silence the English version of the album translated from the Icelandic version Dýrð í dauðaþögn.  Asgeir was an interesting early evening act but maybe a little too soft for me, I wanted something a little more kicking which is exactly what I got at the Midnight Circus in the next field.

http://asgeirmusic.com/

Alo Wala  – Midnight Circus  6.15 – 7.15 pm.

When walking up to the Midnight Circus the sound coming out of there made me speed up, a mixture of tense bassy beats and rapping double speak, this was exactly what my early evening tonic needed.  Alo Wala was incredible and she filled up the marquee in no time at all, her chemistry intoxicating.  Alo Wala is a hybrid of styles and not too dissimilar to Buraka Som Sistema who played Body & Soul last year, as described in the Body & Soul notes about the band they are a hybrid of hip hop, dancehall, Chicago local club DJs and multi-lingual rappers.  From Body & Souls very own words, Alo Wala, “Meaning ‘the light vendor’ in a Bengali and Hindu melange, Alo Wala is a live electronic music band employing the a host of global influences on their sonic palette.  Featuring Chicago-born rapper Shivani Ahlowalia and Tropical Bass pioneers Copia Doble Systema, the live show swanks energetically-charged vocals delivered by Shivani; hefty percussion from boy wonder Julius Sylvest; bombastic uproar from the original tropical viking, Copyflex and hypnotically magniloquent live visuals from VJ Mad Es.”  Shivani has an incredible charisma and her miraculous articulate double speak rapping was something to behold, us the audience utterly mesmerised by this incredible sound for an early evening act.  The silver dress Shivani was wearing gave the illusion almost that she was either on stilts or just a very tall woman but I will be checking out more about this band, incredible stuff, she also reminded me a wee bit about another female rapper called Mia.

http://alowala.com/

I just wandered about the woods after this and no doubt, back to the crew camp to get more beers, interspersing between drinking water, the occasional coffee and the odd Guinness.  I noticed something of a tendency with the smaller stages in the woods, most of the DJs there would crossover playing the same old generic pop funk, I don’t know how many times I heard Funky Town or Dance, Dance, Dance but they seemed to be cropping up all the time, it was becoming a bit like 2FM at times, a bit of a cheese fest.  We need a bit more variation, that’s why a lot of us missed the My House location as Toby would have DJs as well as himself throwing reggae into the mix or more eclectic funk like Hot Chocolate’s Everyone’s a Winner or even a rollicking Led Zeppelin track.  It has to be noted we are not all disco divas in the festival audience so vary it a little, dudes, please. Another venue missing this year that added to the melting pot of sound was Natasha’s Kitchen which used to have a nice mix of trad and lively gypsy music.

Myself and Kevin wandered up to the Bulmer’s Lounge in the Walled Garden where Galway’s Tracy Bruen and band were playing to a nice crowd in the venue, a mixture of folk and good time rock n roll.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage 10 – 10.30 pm.

Now this was a strange electronic pop and rock band with all the members in red hazmat suits kind of like the ones wore by the medics who were tackling the Ebola outbreak earlier in the year in the US and Africa.  Their music coming across like a mix of Devo and Joy Divison with wind instruments thrown in.  Someone in Body & Soul must trawl these strange venues in Dublin thinking, wow this band looks quite ludicrous and strange, they’ll do.  I enjoyed SlowPlaceLikeHome, a strange nutty group in a strange nutty stage.  I also took a photo of another light installation suspended in amongst the trees near the Treehaus stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome - Treehaus Stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage.

https://slowplacelikehome.bandcamp.com/

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

Throughout the weekend I also liked to take photos of the spotlight lit trees, one of my favourite things about Body & Soul festival.

Spotlight lit tree.

Spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

Myself and Kevin met up with Dave Curran who was on his way to catch the start of Warp act Clark at the Midnight Circus, so I thought that would be a good idea myself, I was in the mood for some brain melting electronica.  Met Geoff Ward a good friend of mine who was playing with his nine piece ska band Big Jelly throughout the weekend at the festival, he reminded me to come to the Bulmer’s Lounge the following day for the next gig.

Clark – Midnight Circus  10.50 – 11.50 pm.

Clark had a wicked electronic sound and he was super intense, he had some of the glitchiness of Four Tet and Hopkins, mad frenetic spin off beats in the Squarepusher style. Wikipedia gives a brief synopsis of his style: “He often experiments with forms of degradation, distortion and decay associated with different mediums, employing techniques such as re-recording samples and field-recordings in different environments.” I’ll tell you something, Clark gave me my electronica overload for the night, he was absolutely superb and a nice discovery.  I think Dave and Kevin found him a little too electronically heavy but I loved it.

http://throttleclark.com/music/

Twin Headed Wolf – Wonderlust Stage  11.45 – 12.15 pm.

From the electronically absurd world of Clark to the sweet, gentle old time folk of Clare twin sisters Twin Headed Wolf, Julie and Branwen captivated a packed Wonderlust audience with their vaudeville inspired old time folk and traditional music and despite the sound bleed from two other stages near by they handled their show with remarkable aplomb.  Some of their melancholic stuff reminded me of Amercian songster, Edith Frost. They got a rapturous applause at the end of their set and that famous roar of ‘One more tune’ where they returned for a song.  Myself and Dave were persuaded by Kevin, a Clare man himself to come to this show and there was no regrets whatsoever.  Hopefully I’ll catch them the next time in Galway in a more intimate venue.

https://twinheadedwolf.bandcamp.com/

I think we tried to wander back into the main arena to Port Royal but found the passage way too packed so decided to stay in the woods for a while, the place was just far too busy. B&S will need to rethink the capacity as with the 8,500 punters last year there still seemed to be enough room, this time everywhere seemed decidedly wedged and it could get very tiring just getting from A to B through that throng.  We headed back to Kevin’s tent at the crew camp as there seemed to be space in there and had a few smokes and some cans.  I ended up having an early night in the end as I don’t think I could’ve faced going out into that throng again plus the Clark gig more that satisfied me for my electronic fix for the day. Incidentally I heard the woods was cleared at 3.30 am due to the gathering crowd by security so there must have been a health and safety issue near the close to Saturday.

Sunday 21st June.

Today I woke early enough at about 9 am, was well rested so off for a coffee and a bite to eat, actually I went to Kev’s Kitchen and got one of his coffees and got a bite later, I remember Jamaican/Irish man Brendan Rungus telling me about his Jamaican porridge, Brendan runs the Galway cafe Jamaica Joe’s and was up handling the catering needs of the stoned famished people, so I vowed to go to Port Royal to try some Jamaican porridge.  I spotted Kevin heading to Kev’s too, another fan of their coffee.

So off we go for a walkabout to the main arena and into Port Royal for a bite, I met Michelle who was avidly devouring a bowl of said porridge, so ordered up one myself and it was just what the doctor ordered, absolutely delicious, Brendan had ran out of spoons so I had to use a wooden fork, but it was worth it.

Jamaican Porridge.

Jamaican Porridge.

SOAK – Main Stage  2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Wandering about the main stage arena, SOAK was creating a nice atmosphere on the main stage for the Sunday afternoon, the Derry singer and songwriter had just been playing in Galway a few nights before and had a fairly attentive audience in tow playing a selection from her recently released album How to Dream the month previously.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOAK

Ensemble Eriu – Bulmer’s Stage 2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Ensemble Erui are a 7 piece traditional folk rock group with a nice flair for the pure drop but with interesting combinations of backing in a contemporary feel that doesn’t loose the essence of the music and rooted in the tradition of West and North Clare music.  I just caught about ten minutes of their gig, as I sat down to eat a steak burger and was delighted to catch a little bit of traditional music.  With concertina, fiddle, drum kit, guitar, marimba, double bass, flute and tin whistle, clarinet and electronics too, it was a nice sound to wash the hangover away too.

http://ensembleeriu.com/about-ensemble-eriu/

Big Jelly – Bulmer’s Stage  4 – 4.45 pm.

Nine piece Galway ska band Big Jelly was the ‘pick me up’ tonic needed to get the partying off to a nice start for Sunday afternoon, my friend Geoff Ward on the saxophone, a trumpet player, two other brass instrument players, a bassist and drummer.  Knocking out classics such as Roland Alphonso’s Phoenix City, loads of ska classics and the band had a few loonies out at the front throwing shapes to the music.  Nothing like a bit of ska to lift the spirits.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/music/the-good-time-lounge-big-jelly/

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs.

Chah Wallahs.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

I met Geoff again in the main arena, he was having a bite at one of the dining tables, so I went and got a pulled pork sandwich and sat down to join him.  Geoff was impressed and not impressed with the Body & Soul festival, he felt it was more safer than the Picnic but for getting info from stewards or security he felt it was a mess.  When he told me that the musician and performer camp was next to the main camp site, I thought that rather strange, as I’m sure loads of musicians camped in the crew camp last year.  Not only this but I heard there was a lot of robberies in the main camp site as well as Geoff’s camp site when money and instruments got stolen.  There was even one or two robbing incidents in the crew camp even with a few security around.  Myself and Geoff went up to the crew camp for a pipe and he almost didn’t get in because of his green wristband, but the security guard realised he wasn’t going to be staying there for the night, so was grand for half an hour or so.

I wandered up to the main stage area and caught the last ten minutes of Matthew E. White’s set where his chilled psychedelic blues rock was just the ticket for the balmy Sunday evening and despite the audience’s protest of one more tune, it was obvious that the roadies were dissembling the gear and he may have went over the clock already, while the stage was being prepared for the next act.

Matthew E. White - Main Stage.

Matthew E. White – Main Stage.

Clu – Midnight Circus 6.45 – 7.30 pm.

Clu made a nice thought provoking electronic palette of sound, crisp electronic pop with a nice ambient swirl, the Dublin based musicians had a nice attentive audience swaying to their sound.  Breaking Tunes states that they were inspired by 1980’s science fiction films, contemporary dance, 8 bit computer graphics and arcade soundtracks… Clu works by fusing music and visual arts together.  An interesting group worthy of further investigation.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/clu

Caught a wee bit of the next main stage act too called Rhye, comprising a Canadian singer Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal and two other musicians, making a nice alternative rock sound and a decent crowd gathered at the stage, this was just one of these moments of discovery, I had never heard of Rhye before but they did the job for some lively entertainment.  I only really caught about five minutes as I was on my way back to crew camp to rest for a while before the electronica overload of James Holden and then Leftfield.

Rhye - Main Stage.

Rhye – Main Stage.

James Holden Live – Midnight Court  9.15 – 10.15 pm.

I was so glad to catch this guy, I couldn’t believe it when he was a no show last year, although not his fault.  I was initially expecting him to do a DJ set but live is live, he had the proper works, some synthesizers and other equipment, a live drummer and saxophone player.  He looked like a mad professor over his equipment constantly tweaking at his sound.  Beautiful dreamy synth sequences kind of like the sound from his album The Inheritors but not recognisable from the record, until about half through his set he dropped a nice live work out of Blackpool Late Eighties.  The combination of a live drum kit and an exceptional drummer at that and saxophone mixed in with Holden’s electronica made for a vast rock sound that rivals some of Pink Floyd’s stuff and Nicholas Jaar’s Dark Side from Body & Soul last year.  A brilliant gig and a very gifted bunch of musicians.

James Holden - Midnight Circus.

James Holden – Midnight Circus.

http://www.jamesholden.org/

Leftfield – Main Stage    10.40 pm – 12 am.

Sheets of transparent plastic with small spaces in between greeted me as I stared at the main stage, I wondered their purpose, something decidedly futuristic, yeah, that could go with the Leftfield sound.  When the music started up, it became obvious the the sheets were used to project visuals on while partly obscuring the live band, which you could sometimes see.  The music was pretty good though and the new album Alternative Light Source got a liberal airing, great trademark building blocks of Leftfield sound.  I only heard the new album once and it was in my office at work, I listened to the Guardian stream of the album at a very low volume, I liked what I heard, but no trance out ambient stuff like Melt, one of my favourites from Leftism.  The only new track I really knew was Universal Everything which is a barnstormer of a techno number and the reason why I captured the intro the way I did on the video clip, its such a powerful cruncher of a track.

We got some oldies too, I was delighted to hear Inspection: Check One as Cheshire Cat mentions Body & Soul in the lyrics, well at least the live version anyway.  The band closed with the wild Phat Planet, the sound twisting and distorting until it became a finely distilled thump of lively techno and fizz….. the end.  Was that Averill that came out to explain why the music stopped, they did say it stopped at twelve and it did.  But a damn fine night of music from the bigger stages and some of the smaller ones too.

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

So back to put up my feet for a while at the camp, I have an inflatable mattress this time so I partly use it as a seat in my tent and damn comfortable it is too, I used to rely on two thin foam mats and the camping ground can be tough on the body where you are slowly bruising.  Well Louise was the first back, followed by Fluffy, Chris and then Simon, Conor and a bunch of others, I still had three cans of Guinness left so all good, we took a trip out to the woods again towards the Treehaus stage that was actually pumping out some decent techno courtesy of the Taste DJs.  There was a fair crowd here bopping to the sounds and some folk who decided to do a chain thing with all their friends, sitting down and interlinking in a circle, funny stuff.

Just as we headed back to the camp didn’t the DJs drop Daniel Avery’s Knowing We’ll be Here, but as quickly as it came on it was faded out after a minute and the decks went silent.  So I took out my Ipod and speaker from the knapsack and put on the track again, a security guard walked up to me, I thought he was going to tell me to turn it off but he said, ‘Fuuuuccckkking Tuuuuunnnne!  Didn’t I just hear this in the big system.’, that was exactly the reason I put it on, I wanted to hear it fully and just played the Drone Logic album until the Ipod battery went flat.  I think we stayed up till about three or four in the morning and then I had to black out.

Monday 22nd June.

The aftermath, the water is turned off and security are asking everyone to go, Kevin is working the breakdown for the Soul Kids area and said to me I could get a lift when he finishes.  Some of the lads and lassies fancy staying on for another day but its not to be, security want everyone off the land apart from legitimate festival break down workers so we all part our ways.  we didn’t leave till about six thirty after getting a bite at the restaurant and I made it to Galway for nine, when Kevin took me to the city centre to play my session at Tigh Cholis, was like a zombie but it was good to be back in the auld ceoil.

Till next year folks I bid you goodbye and will see ya at the Picnic and possibly some others this summer.  I’ll leave you with this image of production volunteer Chris Lavelle after a particularly heavy weekend of partying, it sums up what Body & Soul does to you.

Its been a hectic weekend.

Its been a hectic weekend.

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Life Festival 2015, Ireland 29th – 31st May Review

life-festival-2015

Having arrived on site in the 24th May Sunday, fellow volunteer Jonathan saved my skin by picking me up at Tyrrellspass and bringing me to the crew campsite at Belvedere House.  I travelled the Citylink Galway – Dublin commuter bus which came nearest to the festival site at 12 kilometres from Tyrrellspass in County Westmeath.  I was lucky to have the tent up in time before a torrential downpour attacked.  Weather was very different this year, it was tough sitting about the campsite and not being froze by the icy breeze, but myself and Jonathan braved it with a few cans of Guinness and some assorted sounds from Mr Ipod and Music Angel Friendz speaker.  Danyl another volunteer appeared later in the night and we were three.

More volunteers arrived on Monday and we were just hanging about the production area as spare hands when the call was needed to put up fencing or to change it around again. Foxy was the main man who would find us work and Lorcan too along with other crew, Foxy regaling us with funny stories of festivals gone past.  Over the following few days more familiar faces from last years build appeared.  We attempted a camp fire one or two nights to beat the cold but was curtailed by fair enough words from one of the Life bosses, Ronan.  Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty laid back days, many of the site crew were off doing their things around site, while we waited at the volunteers office for them to ask for help.  When we did get work the bloody weather would drive me spare, one minute it would be lashing rain and wind, which I would suitably prepare for and in the next minute it would be boiling hot and you would have to discard the layers again.  It was great to have showers this time and of course, Life festival treats its workers like royalty when it comes to being fed, two fairly decent meals a day and breakfast in the morning too.

I agreed to work an extra day as I would have been just milling around the site bored I suppose, I certainly wasn’t going back to Galway for the night and it would be nice to have the meals on Thursday too.  It has to be said though, Thursday was the hardest day and why wouldn’t it be, it was the final day of preparation before the festival kicked off the following day.  I done scrimming, helped the lads change the fences again, put heavy old carpets over the wires leading from the mixing desk to the main stage.  Man! I was glad when that day ended and I got that final meal, let the partying commence.

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The Sim Simma Stage.

Side FX Stage (Psy-Trance)

Side FX Stage (Psy-Trance)

The Bulmer's Stage (Main Stage from last year)

The Bulmer’s Stage (Main Stage from last year)

Heras Fencing, the festivals best friend.

Heras fencing, a festivals best friend.

The back of the Red Bull Arena Tent.

The back of the Red Bull Arena Tent.

Friday 29th May

I had no one on the agenda really to see this day or didn’t really know the line up bill for Friday, all I know was I kept running to the covered stages as rain showers were as frequent as the unz unz unz emitting from all the stages.  I was delighted that Aminah Dastan and her boyfriend. Philip Fahy were at the festival running a neat wee cafe in the psy trance area, so I hung about there drinking a few Americanos and had a delightful smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.  The music blasting out of the Side FX stage was a dark psy trance, heavy beats, dark bass and twisted electronics with a healthy dose of new world mutants shaking their thang to the sounds.  I’m quite certain that the music was by Alien Angel as I dropped over to the Side FX about eight in the evening, but it was nice that the psy stage had a cover this time as psy trancers must have got very soaked last year.

I mostly just floated from stage to stage, next port of call was the Simma Down reggae and bass music area, the Liquid Tent re imagined in a more kind of Jamaican vibe. The Sim Simma stage a smaller version of the liquid tent and the Sim Simma 2 stage, a pick up van converted into another stage with an interesting array of speakers to each side of it and lovely little nooks and crannys to sit into away from the rain, the area also had a Body & Soul visitor from last year, the Glowhole installation and ping pong tables and seating areas each side of the brown tent stage.

I caught a few acts on the Sim Simma 2 stage as well, one of them my next door neighbour in the crew campsite, giving a fine mix of bass music, hip hop, reggae, jungle and drum n bass.  I’m not sure which is which, so going by the timetable, Slim Tim, Johnny Hammond, Docktah Irie.

I was trooping around with other fellow volunteers and some of the weekend ones too, such as the lovely Hannah, Ben & Laurie Purkiss, Danyl and his girlfriend.  At one point I trooped up to the volunteers office to collect my phone and I met James Fahy and Conor Dolan from Galway who had been waiting for Fran Hogan (our volunteer coordinator) to get their shift schedule for the weekend volunteering.

The rain came on quite heavy and I headed back to my tent for a rest and some shelter, staying for an hour or two before the heavy shower subsided.  Hannah called up after her shift and Ben and Laurie later where we had a few tins and some spliffs before venturing out to the arena after midnight or later, I’m not really too sure at this stage.  It was more likely about 1 or 2 am as I had some decent sounds myself that everyone seemed to enjoy anyway.

When we did hit the arena, parts of it became a soggy muddy mess, so we had to stick to the edge of the path so we didn’t get stuck in the quagmire of muck.  The rain eventually went off and we ventured to the Sim Simma 2 stage again catching a bit of the DJ Easy Yves set that had a sizeable crowd going loopy, I met Sam and Darragh there too, I think this was one of Darragh’s favourite areas as I would meet him throughout the weekend there.

We moved over to the brown tent stage where the closing act for Friday was the Sim Simma Soundsystem, an eclectic bunch of nutters and rappers who would take turns at toasting and trying to out toast each other, a hugely entertaining act and a nice selection of Jamaican inspired hip hop and bass heavy tunes.  We stayed until the very last note and the sun came out to usher in the dawn, although it was still fairly cold by all means.

We trooped off to catch the last set on the District 8 stage, RSCH14 who was playing a lovely ambient techno that could only complement the sunshine, the music still had a hard edge which kept you moving otherwise it was just too cold to just stand there.  When the music finished there, we all rushed over to the Hunt & Gather Circus tent which was blasting out Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Georgio Moroder’s scintillating keyboard riff alas that was the final number of the last music for Friday.

Back to the campsite for a night cap or morning cap tin, a blether and some sounds before we all hit the sack.

Saturday 30th May.

Woke up and headed over to the Charcoal Grill for a steak burger and a coffee, for me anyway this is a handy breakfast if nothing else tickles your fancy.  headed into the arena about five in the evening to do a bit of exploring or simply to shelter from rain storms.  headed to the Side FX to say hello to Aminah and found that the delightful Deirdre Mullins from Galway was there too to give them a hand at the cafe, Aminah gave me a coffee on the house which was well appreciated.  I soaked up some of the sounds from the stage courtesy of Dubtek and Jimajama who followed after.  Sometimes I like to go up close and watch the DJ in action, the music was pumping and in this corner of the world this is exactly what this audience wanted.  I suppose psytrance works as a form of improvisation that gets phased and twisted, stops/starts and another synth sequence mixed in.  Like I’ve said before though, I can take only twenty minutes normally of this stuff and I have to move on or else it just sounds all the same.  A psytrance artist I could watch no problem for a full set though has to be Sphongle, I have wonderful memories of his 2008 set at the 2nd Galway edition of Life.

Went off to the Sim Simma area again where luck would have it, one of my old Life/Body&Soul bosses, Mikey Joyride was playing a set in the Simma brown tent stage, it was a reunion of a sort as the last festival I was at was Electric Picnic 2014 where I caught Mikey’s set at the Body & Soul Upstage tent and they played Dawn Penn’s No,no,no one of my favourite reggae tracks of all time.

Back to the campsite to find my timetable, I don’t get this, the timetables available to the volunteers only have three stages, where are the other five, that does not make any sense. I’m also starting to get tired of the trekking about, its become laboured now because the mud is spreading and starting to get into my tent, my wellies and boots a mess.  There are lots of hilly bits around the site so I’m feeling myself getting breathless sometimes, my tobacco habit not helping the situation.  I initially had a full plan to catch Warp stalwart Luke Vibert, then Panthu De Prince and Squarepusher on the main stage but tiredness caught up with me.

In my second visit to the arena I made for the Red Bull tent to catch Luke Vibert for the first time.

Luke Vibert – Red Bull Stage 8.30 – 10 pm

Luke Vibert is more housey than Aphex Twin but just as good, although both have played together a long time Luke had a wholly original sound that was fresh and delightful, he actually looked like Richard with his ponytail, Chris Cunningham looks like him too so they must have come from some Aphex cloning factory.  Saying that, Vibert’s music was lovely and bouncy with beautiful clean synths more akin the the Selected Ambient Works vol 1 vibe rather than the darker brain dancey stuff that comes out of Warp and there was a fair crowd in the Red Bull arena to catch his set.  I was well impressed with his music and I hope to catch him some time soon again.

I was getting hungry again and decided for a pizza from the blue bus, half the bus packed by people with no intention of buying food and smoking in the area, the pizza though was delicious.  I stared out the window at the advancing rain which was picking up again and considered setting my alarm for the Panthu and Squarepusher sets and having a lie down in the tent.  I went back over to the Red Bull Stage to catch a bit of High Contrast’s set which was pretty captivating, power drum n bass and jungle, I started to get a sore back so reverted to plan A to have a wee lie down in my tent.

When the alarm went to go off to the main stage I heard the rain smattering fiercely off my tent, figured, well I seen Squarepusher back in 2012 at the Picnic, went fuck it, was nice and snug in my sleeping bag so went back to sleep and didn’t wake up till six in the morning so the Saturday schedule was done.  Laid awake for an hour or two and the sun decided to come out so went for a wander and got the munchies again so had a chicken burger and wandered about with my sounds around the main campsite meeting folk I worked with in the 2012 Life festival breakdown there.  Went back to my tent and crashed out again.

Sunday 31st May.

When I woke again its was off for the coffee and breakfast wrap from the Smoothie stall, it has to be said, the choice was quite limited for takeaway stalls at the festival, no Pieministers or Wok n’ Rolls, but some of the ones there were grand enough.

Sunday made for a more balanced day where I took in a lot more acts, I also found when you got to really muddy bits I used the hillsides to escape the muck, it was handy for the aul call of nature too occasionally.

I had a great chat with the security guard Abdul who was stationed at the crew camp, we talked about the music we both liked and festivals and how they reflected the counter-culture that we grew up with, I think Abdul enjoyed the chat too.  I think he is working Body & Soul festival too so I hope to meet up with him there or I hope he gets the job working at the crew camp area.

On with the music then.  Into the arena I go and  make straight for the Sim Simma area for a sit down in one of the sheltered areas near the Sim Simma 2 stage, seemingly a joint rolling haven with the appropriate music at hand courtesy of Manma Saor and some of the Sim Simma DJs after that.  I wandered to the other side of the arena to Side FX to say hello to Aminah and co and listen to a bit of psytrance madness by Energy Collective.

The weather being a bit mellower today I stayed in the arena longer.  I caught a bit of the Dirty Dubsters live set on the main stage who had a good reggae/rap vibe going on, it looked like some of the rappers from the Sim Simma Soundsystem were involved too and it was a seriously good tonic for this afternoons proceedings, energised Jamaican hip hop infused jungle and drum n bass a good kickstart for Sunday.  I took a walk towards the Bacardi stage as I hadn’t really looked at that area properly because the weather had been so awful most of the time.

DJ Nu-Mark – Bacardi Stage 4,30 – 6pm.

DJ Nu-Mark blew me away with his turntablism skills and he had a great rapport with the crowd, the sun came out and when the sun comes out in the lakeside area with no wind, its a gorgeous place to be.  Nu-Mark was playing some disco, funk and soul classics, some of which were a bit cheesy but he put his own slant over it all and I love folk who can do the scratch hip hop thing so well, kinda like Grandmaster Flash.  I found out after that Nu-Mark is also a member of Jurassic 5, so will check them out at the Picnic in September.

Went wandering back towards the Red Bull stage as I wanted to see who was in there.

Derrick Carter – Red Bull Arena 5.30 – 7 pm

Carter was giving it socks and I was sure I recognised him before, I realised he was one of the interviewees in the Channel 4 dance documentary Pump up the Volume, I also recognised him from one of the video streams from Tommorrowland festival last year.  He played some pretty funky house music and he really looked like he was digging the atmosphere in the tent.  No wonder everyone was going crazy Carter is one of the Chicago House masters of the dance scene, he has been around when the term was invented, brilliant stuff.

I took a quick trip over to the Psytrance stage for a coffee and took in a bit of the DJ Digital Species who plays a similar mangled psychedelic noise like Parasense from last year.  I wandered to the next stage, the main stage to see who was starting up there.

The Underachievers – Main Stage 6.30 – 8 pm.

The Underachievers would be what you would describe as a sort of psychedelic Rap, there was three of them with another on the beats, I loved the long drone bass beats that went behind the raps.  Issa Gold, well at least I think that is his name introduced himself to the audience by saying he was beat up by six Gardai on his way to the gig.  The music was interesting nonetheless, psychedelic  rap wouldn’t be the top of my listening priorities but I found it interesting listening to it in a live setting.

At this point I made a mad dash to the welfare tent, I had been coughing all weekend probably a bit of a festival cold, but had ran out of my ventolin inhaler during the week working at the festival so went to the welfare tent to see if I could get the use of a nebuliser or a spare inhaler.  The doctor gave me a blast of a 12 hour ventolin inhaler which done the trick nicely.  I had an interesting chat with him and thankfully there wasn’t too many casualties during the weekend, he told me that his colleagues were stationed at Forbidden Fruit and Slane Castle too.  When I left the welfare tent I felt like a spritely teenager again.  Up to the campsite for a little sit down and then back down to the arena to catch a bit of Nas.

Nas – Main Stage 8 pm – 9 pm.

I loved Nas’s set, I wouldn’t be too informed on the rap thing but I found Nas’s rapping to be crystal clear and articulate, it sort of reminded me of Outkast at the picnic last year. The man just oozed confidence too and not before long I’m going to procure myself a copy of the album he was showcasing or revisiting, Illmatic.  Nas probably had the biggest crowd of the festival and is a new type of genre for Life festival to be booking, usually the festival sticks strictly to dance and reggae music.  So a healthy thing for the festival to incorporate different styles of music which still loosely fall under the dance music umbrella.  And thankfully no umbrellas were needed to watch this performance.

Another trip back to the campsite, I might add the purpose most of the time travelling back and forth to the campsite was to have a can of Guinness as I couldn’t take them into the arena till 12 am and I had a whack of them to tear into for the weekend, so waste not want not as they say ‘hic’.  On my way back to the arena my senses were arrested by a wild sound coming out of the Red Bull tent.

Motor City Drum Ensemble – Red Bull Arena 9 pm – 10 pm.

MCDE had a serious sound going down and the many hands in the air pumping testified that this was what Life festival is about.  Intense funky techno influenced by the Detroit sound, most of the volunteers I was working with were in here going loopy this was one of their main draws or must see acts and I can understand why, infectious funky grooves not only influenced by house and techno itself but of disco, the funk of Funkadelic and Parliament and others of a similar ilk, I would have stayed for more but I nearly forgot about going to the main stage to see SiriusModeselektor, one of my main draws.

SiriusModeselektor – Main Stage 9.30 – 11 pm. 

Woo hoo back to the corklinkity bloinkity music of Modeselektor, I loved their set in 2013 at Life, this time Sirius is added to the group making it SiriusModeselektor and guess what their music is still lovingly corclinkity bloinkity music, they are like nothing else on earth. Bouncy crazy electronica of the highest order and they also have bags of zany humour too. I love some of this nutty electronic stuff coming out of Germany, I was so happy to catch Moderat last year too in Dublin.  I don’t know anything about the new album or if they have an new album out but boy, they are serious, serious party and good time music and the visuals displayed in the backdrop were stunning and vivid.  They are masters of most electronic genres and they even paid a tribute to one of their heroes, Kraftwerk, another splendid nutty electronic band.  I can never get enough of this music, they could have played to eight in the morning and I would still be there frothing to the sounds.

After that I had my fill for another while at the arena so back to the campsite for a rest and a Guinness and I planned to go back in after with the rest of the tins and visit the stages that were still running.

By the time I went back into the arena at least four of the stages had shut down, Red Bull, Main stage, Psytrance stage and the Bulmer’s stage were dormant and quiet, so off I troop to Simma Down area, on the way there was some beautiful ambient electronica pumping out of the District 8 stage which I stopped to look at for a while, I lost my bearings as regards the time so I’m not too sure who I was looking at either Conor Hanson b2b Breen and the end of their set or the starting of Rohad’s set but I loved it all the same.  I wanted something again a bit more mellower than the BPM I was listening too, so up the hill I go and down to the other side to the centre of Simma Down.

Ben Bix and then Manma Saor – Sim Simma 2.  12 am – 2 am 

I mostly finished my arena excursion here to the sounds of Jamaican hip hop, grime, dubstep and jungle, many people still floating about not wanting the party to end.  Met some of the volunteers here going strong still and a nice selection of tunes, a nice way to blow out the weekend and it wasn’t raining, so all good.  When the music winded up we snuck over to the District 8 stage and caught the last five minutes of Rohad’s set, a few moaning about the stages closing at 2 instead of 3 am, but hell tis a lot better than last year when it closed at 12.

Back to the campsite for the night, I just sat in my tent with the soundsystem on and finished what was left of my carry out, on my way to the toilets I met Hannah and another friend in the tent beside, I hadn’t seen her since Saturday morning and I wondered where she had disappeared too.  It turns out she was looking for me on Saturday night but that was the time I went to the land of the nod and had that early night.

Monday 1st June and the fecking rain and wind is back.

So Saturday’s weather came back to revisit me on Monday morning, I snuck up to Ben and Laurie’s tent to share some of my Guinness or more so to get rid of the extra weight from my bag.  In their tent it was dry in either end but in the middle a puddle was forming from the shitty weather twas a sight to behold.  I said my goodbyes for if I didn’t leave then I would be lumbered for another night there.

The last I remember was walking all the way out to the roadside outside Belvedere House and hitching for about 40 minutes in the wind and rain, god, it was such a miserable day. Luckily one of the musicians who had been playing in the Simma Down area picked me up and dropped me into Tyrrellspass with fifteen minutes to spare to catch the connection back to Galway in time to play my session.

Life festival thank you for another great edition, sorry readers I didn’t have a camera this year so I never had any videos or snaps to upload to the blog, my many thanks to Danyl Hartshorn for the use of his photos and the youtubers who’s clips I nicked for the blog. Thanks to Ronan and Lorcan for the wonderful supply of food tokens, Foxy for the festival stories and all the other crew and Fran Hogan for making sure we were all safe and sorted and especially Abdul the crew camp security guard who I had great discussions with about counter-culture and music, till Life 2016 all the best, roll on Body & Soul 2015.

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