FolkWorld #69 07/2019
© Ann O'Brien / Gig’n the Bann

Musical Traditions Across Cultural Divides

The 20th 'Gig’n the Bann' Cross Community Music and Dance Festival will take place from the 12th - 15th September 2019. Cross Cultural Music, Song & Dance on the banks of the Bann.

Gig’n the Bann

12th - 15th September 2019
The Illegals with Niamh Kavanagh
Chris Madden and The Lucky Ducks 
Dave & Michelle Sheridan,
   Alan Costello and Eoghan O'Brien
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers
Portglenone CCE
Sharon Shannon Trio
"The Sound of Rain"

In the heart of Co. Antrim nestled between the major towns of Ballymena and Magherafelt lies the village of Portglenone. The village rests along the banks of the River Bann, which has been immortalised by countless artists and writers down through the years.

It is here in this idyllic setting that the 20th 'Gig’n the Bann' Cross Community Music and Dance Festival will take place from the 12th – 15th September 2019. This festival has become one of the major events on the Summer Festival Calendar having built a reputation for offering a most impressive line-up of top performers spanning Traditional, Scottish and Folk Music circles.

The ethos of the festival is to bring together musical traditions across all cultural divides and the direction pursued in recent years has been to incorporate the Ulster Scots tradition alongside Traditional Irish music. This has greatly enhanced audience participation in a diverse range of events. It has also meant that people from different sides of the community have become exposed to music, song and dance that they may not have been familiar with before.

The Festival programme for 2019 will again include the usual mix of Concerts, Traditional Music Sessions, 5K Run and Walk, Praise Service and Art Exhibition. There is also the opportunity to hear world class pipe bands at the 'Pipe'n the Bann' event which is usually one of the highlights of the festival.

The main festival concerts are held in "The Old Shirt Factory” a really unique venue. As the title suggests this is a disused shirt factory, which is now a listed, building due to its historical importance in the village. The factory is converted into a 500 seat capacity concert hall with a first class light and sound system. The venue has been described by Sharon Shannon a previous performer at the festival as a "Mini Point Theatre”. Indeed this stage has been graced by may fine performers from both the worlds of traditional Irish and Ulster Scots music; Altan, Danu, Kieran Goss, Cara Dillon, Flook, Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band, St Laurence O Toole Pipe Band, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Bill Black Ceilidh Band to name just a few.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Artist Video Red Hot Chilli Pipers @ FROG

Each year the festival continues to grow and the organising committee strive to bring the top performers to an audience that rarely would have an opportunity to see these artists perform live.

So whether you want to join a session or listen to the sound of the pipes and drums or attend one of the many concerts or outdoor events over the course of the weekend I’m sure you will agree there is something for everyone! Mark the 12th – 15th September in your diaries and you will be assured a warm welcome and a weekend of top class entertainment on the banks of the Bann!

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

The connection with ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ and the festival began back in 2006 when they raised the roof in the old shirt factory, that night there was no doubt that they would be back. Their return in 2008 created huge interest in the local media when immediately after they came off the stage at a gig in Scotland they jetted to Northern Ireland to perform at the festival on the same night and on arrival in Portglenone were interviewed by Ivan Little from UTV. A third visit in 2015 proved they were still as popular as ever with another exhilarating sell out show!! The twentieth anniversary could not pass without having this amazing band with us to celebrate and we are thrilled to have them with us for a fourth time!

From a cameo appearance at ‘T in the Park’ in 2004 with ‘The Darkness’ to opening the main stage in their own right in 2014, the past fourteen years have seen ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ become the most famous bagpipe band on the planet - ever! Bagpipes with attitude and drums with a Scottish accent, the band’s achievements have reached incredible heights with their ground breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and Rock/Pop Anthems which they proudly call ‘Bagrock’. They have achieved sell out tours, gigs and festivals in the UK, USA, China, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine, Barbados, Dubai, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and India. They have regular performances for showbiz stars, sporting stars and Royalty such as Ewan McGregor, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Alex Ferguson, Gary Player, The Scottish Rugby Team, Her Majesty the Queen and Samuel L Jackson. The band have also made appearances at major national events such as BBC Proms in the Park, T in the Park, The Commonwealth Games, The Bahrain Grand Prix, The Rugby World Cup and a US TV documentary during NBC coverage of The Olympic Games.

Sharon Shannon

Artist Video
Sharon Shannon @ FROG

Their first album, ‘Bagrock to the Masses’ was awarded a Gold disk for over 100,000 UK sales and their third album and DVD, ‘Blast Live’ achieved a Triple platinum album status. They have also been awarded twice for ‘Best Live Act in Scotland’ and also attained a ‘Big Hearted Scotland’ nomination for their incredible work for charity worldwide. In addition they were Winners of the BBC Prime Time talent show ‘When Will I Be Famous’. They have made TV appearances worldwide; have over 3.5 million views on YouTube of their viral cover of the ‘Avicii’ track ‘Wake Me Up’ and they also have over 370,000 Facebook followers and a very active Twitter following of thousands. They have never been more in demand for their infectious style of feel good music which appeals right across the age range to people all over the world. They have a pool of the very best musicians from Scotland and across the globe - many holding World Champion titles and all serious players with impressive credentials and qualifications.

There has never been anything quite like ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, a show not to be missed!!

Sharon Shannon

Sharon Shannon is a musical icon and another world class musician whose name has long been associated with the festival. During her first visit in 2002 she memorably described the old shirt factory venue as a "Mini Point Theatre”. Her return visit in 2012 was hugely anticipated and the centre piece of the poster that year was another top class painting by Conor Larkin, featuring Sharon herself! That year our poster went on to win the ‘Best Poster’ at the ‘Carlton Best of Festival Marketing Awards’. Understandably we are over the moon that Sharon has accepted our invitation for a third time, the perfect conclusion to the twentieth festival celebrations. Like before the audience will be wowed by a foot tapping performance!

For the past twenty seven years, Sharon’s accordion playing has allowed her to travel the globe, collaborating with a host of performers and writers across a multitude of genres including Hip-Hop, Cajun, Country, Classical and Rap. Sharon has showcased Irish traditional music on a world platform and kept it relevant in a modern and contemporary sense. Her musicianship is key to this great success and her warm and generous spirit is renowned the world over, ensuring a long and fruitful career for the Galway woman. She has had many Number One albums and singles and has collaborated and toured with a myriad of household names from U2 to Willie Nelson, Steve Earle to Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan to Imelda May. Sharon continues to throw herself fearlessly into new projects and genres and her recent album, ‘Flying Circus’ with the RTE Concert Orchestra has been a particularly rewarding venture. Other artists who Sharon has recorded and toured with in the Irish and Global Music Industry, include Bono; Adam Clayton; Sinead O’Connor; Jackson Browne; John Prine; Mark Knopfler; The Chieftains; The Waterboys; Nigel Kennedy and Alison Krauss - a list that is testament to Sharon's versatility as well as talent. Sharon has entertained US President Bill Clinton and Irish Presidents, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese and also The Sultan of Brunei in Australia. Sharon records and produces her albums at her own studios, ‘Poets Corner’ outside Galway and she owns her own record label, ‘The Daisy Label’. The genre-defying star has had multi-platinum album sales and has had several number one albums, singles and DVDs in her home country. Sharon’s album, ‘The Galway Girl’ has gone four times Platinum in Ireland and the title track has won the Meteor Award for most downloaded song over two years. The Meteor Awards also honoured Sharon as the youngest ever winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sharon Shannon has music at her fingertips....literally!

Memory Lane

Gig’n the Bann 2008 - 2017

Tim Edey Teada Red Hot Chili Pipers Beoga Mary Black

Photo Credits: (1) Gig’n the Bann, (2),(6) Red Hot Chilli Pipers, (3) Sharon Shannon, (4) Tim Edey, (5) Oisín Mac Diarmada (Téada), (6) Eamon Murray (Beoga), (7) Mary Black (unknown/website).

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