FolkWorld Issue 43 11/2010; Live Report by Adolf Goriup

Exhausted & Lack of Sleep
Guinness Irish Festival – Sion, 5-7 Aug 2010

Article in German

At the beginning of August the Guinness Irish Festival in Sion, the biggest folk festival in Switzerland, is one of my fixed dates during the year. I live just 20 miles from the location, but nevertheless I enjoy the three days on the free camp site of the festival. This year's edition included some of my favourite musicians and singers.

Niall Vallely

Niall Vallely @ FolkWorld: FW#24, #31, #34

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The opening act was already the first highlight: Irish singer and accordion player Seamus Begley teamed up with Kent based guitar icon Tim Edey to present a wonderful program with traditional songs and dance tunes, mostly from Ireland. Edey's virtuoso acoustic guitar playing and Begley's beautiful singing as well as their humorous stage announcements please the unfortunately small crowd - due to the wet and windy Thursday night.

It cleared up on Friday and the evening started with a brilliant performance of Buille, an Irish quartet featuring Niall (concertina) and Caoimhín (keyboards) Vallely, Donal Lunny on guitar and Brian Morrisey on bodhrán and banjo. They played intoxicating tunes and were joined by one of the most beautiful voices of the Irish folk scene, Karan Casey. She sang mesmerizing ballads as well as rhythmic folk songs and her breathtaking voice gave me the heebie-jeebies. The audience soon joined in and put their hands together, danced and sang along; definitely my favourite act of the festival.

Then Scotland's legendary Celtic fusion band Capercaillie came on stage and inspired the crowd with their brilliant sound. Modern grooves coupled with traditional tunes and Karen Matheson's hauntingly beautiful singing let the party continue.

Afro Celt Soundsystem

Afro Celts @ FolkWorld: FW#10, #10, #10

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After their set I had the possibility to talk to band leader Donald Shaw and, yes, fans might be looking forward to the end of the year which will see the release of Matheson's new solo CD. All band members are busy with solo projects, so there aren't any plans to produce a new studio album. But the re-release of their first vinyl album "Cascade" on CD and a DVD with live footage from the 90's will console their loyal fan community.

Saturday night saw a good part of the band return to stage with Michael McGoldrick's (flutes and uilleann pipes) big band. His awesome playing was accompanied by Dezi Donnelly's brilliant fiddle playing, Parvinder Bharat's inspired tablas rhythms and Neil Yates' jazzy brass solos. Capercaillie's rhythmic heart with Ewen Vernal's dazzling bass grooves, Che Beresford on drums and David Robertson on bodhrán provided the awe-inspiring pace and Shaw on keys and Manus Lunny on bouzouki completed the extraordinary line-up.

Another fantastic highlight was the return of the Afro Celt Sound System. After a sabbatical of several years they enchanted the audience with their fusion of tremendous African beats, beautiful Celtic harmonies and modern samples. It was something completely different, the scenario was distinguished by a hypnotizing mix of colours, sounds and rhythms and the show was just splendid. It literally blew me away into another world and left me breathless with amazement.

After those three nights I was exhausted, my hands ached and the lack of sleep let me fall into a deep and quiet sleep dreaming of next year's edition. Cheers!

Karen Matheson Dezi Donnelly Donald Shaw

Photo Credits: (1) Niall Vallely, (2) Afro Celt Soundsystem, (3) Karen Matheson, (4) Dezi Donnelly, (5) Donald Shaw (by Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup).

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