There’s a range of events across the North West in the coming days, weeks and months.
Here’s just a sample of what’s happening from jazz festivals in Derry to a music and arts festival in Letterkenny.
Take your pick!
The second edition of Remote Photo, the festival dedicated to photographers creating work in a remote or rural context takes place in April and May. The RCC will feature two major exhibitions from April 11th to May 20th. ‘The Queen, The Chairman and I’ by award winning Hong Kong born photographer Kurt Tong, will be presented in association with Impressions Gallery Bradford. A group show by students from the School of Photography MFA programme at Ulster University will also be exhibited at the RCC. There will be an intensive weekend of activities on May 12th and 13th including artist talks, panel discussions and workshops. The exhibitions are open Tuesdayto Saturday 11am to 5pm (except April 14th & 15th), admission is free of charge and everyone is welcome. Seeregionalculturalcentre.com for further information.
City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival
Imelda May will headline this year’s Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. Now in its 16th year, the five-day festival will take place from April 27th – May 1st. Previous Bank Holiday Weekends have seen more than 40,000 people descend on the city to enjoy some 200 live acts playing across 70 different venues. May’s most recent live appearance in Derry was at Ebrington as part of Peace One Day. This year audiences will be treated to a brand new sound at the Millennium Forum on Sunday, April 30th. Among the popular acts returning to the festival this year are the Red Stripe Band, the Jive Aces, Cat Scratch Fever and many more. See cityofderryjazzfestival.comfor full programme details and booking.
Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Comes of Age
The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival hits its landmark birthday with all the bravado and naïve swagger of a typical 18 year old next month as it returns from April 27th to May 7th to transform Belfast’s city centre with an exuberant riot of live music, comedy, spoken word and visual arts plus a host of other eclectic, electric tidbits. The busy music line-up boasts live performances from Booker T Jones, The Handsome Family, Divine Comedy, Sugarhill Gang, Kevin Rowland, Cara Dillon, Robert Cray, Breathe – The Pink Floyd Experience, Dana Masters, Interskalactic, Chip Taylor, Kíla, Brix and the Extricated, The Parrots, Madison Violet, Duke Special and Ulaid, Ryan McMullan, The Comet is Coming, Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen, Tir na Nog, Wreckless Eric, Josienne Clark and Ben Walker, Christine Bovill singing Edith Piaf, Harlow Fair, and Artist-in-Residence for the festival Donegal’s own Rosie Carney. The full programme of events can be viewed at www.cqaf.com/2017,where tickets are also now on sale.
The fourth annual alternative music and art festival, Distorted Perspectives will be held in Letterkenny on April 28th and 29th. This year’s line-up includes leading experimental acts from Ireland and the U.K., alongside one of the best European live acts at the moment, Finnish electronic space rock group K-X-P. Will Carruthers (Spacemen 3 / Spiritualized) is artist-in-residence and he will be performing and exhibiting throughout the weekend. The first three years have been very successful and the event has started to develop a niche Irish psyche and experimental music market attracting audiences from Dublin, Belfast and Derry. 2016’s edition received high praise from national media and was described as a ‘cultural highlight for the week’ by The Irish Times, Newstalk, and BBC Radio Northern Ireland. This year’s festival has two jam-packed gigs at the RCC. K-X-P, Robocobra Quartet, Tuath, The Gatefolds play on Friday April 28th and exmagician, SlowPlaceLikeHome, Hannah Peel, Scenery and Aul Boy play on Saturday 29th. For further information and booking see www.distortedperspectives.com
Bealtiane Festival for Older People
The Bealtaine festival in County Donegal features a wide range of over 160 events in libraries, arts and community venues and day care centres throughout the county. Bealtaine in Donegal is organised by Donegal County Council Cultural Services in association with a wide range of partners and is co-ordinated by the Regional Cultural Centre and Donegal County Library. The launch of the 20th Bealtaine Festival with music by Gay McIntyre and John Trotter takes place at RCC Letterkenny on Tuesday May 2nd at 11am. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Other free Bealtaine events at the RCC include ‘An Introduction to Plein Air Painting’ workshop at 11am on Saturday May 6th, a Tea Dance and Book Launch by Letterkenny Active Retirement Association on Thursday May 11th at 2pm and ‘The Lad from Laghey’, a one woman show starring Jean Curran on Tuesday May 16th at 2pm.
Highlights at the Balor.
The Balor Arts Centre Ballybofey has a busy programme of events in April and May. There are two great gigs at the end of April with Booka Brass on Saturday 22nd and Donegal legend Johnny Gallagher & The Boxtie Band on Saturday 29th. There’s two fine Americana concerts in early May. Cahalen Morrison returns with his new band Western Centuries on Monday 1st and Oxfordshire singer-songwriter Ags Connolly will be joined by Pat Reedy for a concert on Thursday 4th. The State of the Nation and the Fund written by Conor Malone and directed by Charlie Bonner will be performed on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th. Best known as Winnie McGoogan in her brother Brendan’s successful BBC sitcom, ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’, Eilish O’Carroll performs a one-woman autobiographical show on Saturday May 13th. See balorartscentre.com for further information and booking.
An Grianán Theatre Letterkenny
An Grianán Theatre has a busy programme of drama, music and dance this April and May. Mary Black and is bringing her world famous band of musicians to Letterkenny on Saturday April 22nd. The line-up features Bill Shanley (guitar), Pat Crowley (piano and accordion), Nick Scott (double bass) and Richie Buckley (saxophone). May highlights include ‘I, Malvolio’ on May 6th, a brilliant one-man show by Tim Crouch, who unlocks Twelfth Night for new audiences, telling a timeless story of bullying, prudery and practical jokes. ‘Bag for Life’ “a raw, powerful and no-holds-barred journey through the deepest, darkest recesses of the Northern Irish soul” will be performed on May 10th. ‘Mother Loss’, written and performed by Maura Logue, imagines a reunion of three extraordinary women – Mary Wollstonecraft, pioneering British writer and feminist and her daughters Mary Shelly (author of the classic Gothic horror story Frankenstein) and Fanny Imlay on May 17th. See angrianan.com for information and booking.
BBC Folk Award Winners At RCC
RCC friends and regulars did very well at last week’s glittering BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at the Royal Albert Hall London. Scottish singer Chris Drever, who performed at the RCC during Letterkenny Trad Week in January this year, scooped two awards – Best Original Track and Folk Singer of the Year. The Furrow Collective the critically acclaimed English/Scottish quartet, who play the RCC on Thursday May 11th, won Best Group. The band is made up of four distinctive and talented performers – Lucy Farrell (fiddle, viola, voice), Rachel Newton (harp, fiddle, voice), Emily Portman (banjo, concertina, voice) and Alasdair Roberts (guitars, voice). There was further good news for the group at the Folk Awards in that Rachel Newton won the individual award for Musician Of The Year. See regionalculturalcentre.com for further information and booking.
Earagail Arts Festival Sneak Preview
The Earagail Arts Festival team have announced some very tasty events for this year’s festival that runs from July 4th to 23rd 2017 and features three distinct weekends in Inishowen, Letterkenny and Arranmore Island. The opening concert on Wednesday July 5th is by the brilliant Scandinavian and Danish Folk Award winning act Dreamers Circus at Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny. There are two exceptional concerts at McGrorys, Culdaff on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th. The Breath perform in a double bill with Belfast’s Ciaran Lavery on the Saturday. Femi Kuti, the legendary Afrobeat musician plays McGrorys on the Sunday night. Other great world music acts announced to date include two concerts at RCC Letterkenny as part of the Donegal International Folk & Roots Weekend. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko, perform on Saturday 15th and Derek Gripper from South Africa performs on Sunday 16th. The California Feetwarmers headline The Mountain Stage at Swell on Arranmore Island on Sunday 23rd. See eaf.ie for further information and booking.