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Tradition plays key role in John’s new folk album



John Blek will play Campbell's Tavern on October 22.

Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell –

John Blek’s gung-ho approach to touring all over Ireland and abroad is steadily helping to raise the profile of this contemporary folk singer-songwriter. The Corkman – whose surname is O’Connor but adopted the surname Blek in homage to a Parisian street-artist – will play Campbell’s Tavern, Cloughanover on Saturday, October 22, part of a nationwide jaunt to promote his second solo album,Cut the Light.

It’s an extensive tour that, in the past few weeks, has seen him play Wexford, Westport, Galway, Tipperary, Cork and Limerick. He started booking the gigs in January, while playing guitar with fellow Corkonian Anna Mitchell during her tour of Germany.

“In the evening I was finding myself sitting down in the hotel, the hostel or wherever we were staying and I thought ‘I may as well start’,” he says. “I got in touch with venues, firing out emails and making phone calls. It got out of hand pretty quickly. I thought I’d do eight or nine shows; that’d be a lot generally. But I kept finding more nice venues to play in and it morphed into a tour of Ireland and Germany between now and the end of year, 36 or 37 shows.

As a member of the excellent six-piece John Blek & The Rats, John is well versed putting a tour together.

“It can be tricky to co-ordinate everyone’s diaries,” he says of touring with a band. “But with this it was one diary, and it was just a much easier thing. I enjoy the booking though. Maybe half as much as I enjoy the playing, but that’s enough!”

Cut the Light was recorded over four days in Bantry, an impressively quick time – was that down to the skill of the players, or the expense of recording?

“It happened, I suppose, because of good preparation, which doesn’t sound very rock and roll,” John says. “Then the other side of it was I had gone to Brian Casey, who I recorded it with in Bantry, and said ‘look, this is my budget, what can we do?’.”

John has cited the English folk singer Bert Jansch, who died in 2011, as an influence on his music, and so do a lot of younger folk artists these days. What does John glean from Jansch’s work?

“For this collection of songs, I had chosen to delve into the folk world a bit deeper, be it Irish, American or British,” John says. “I kept coming back to Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson and Liege and Lief, a record by Fairport Convention.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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