Celebrating eleven years in existence this year, Foyle Folk Festival (FFF) began in 2007 as an event for the rising number of bands influenced by folk music who were making a name for themselves in the local and wider music scene to come together to celebrate the music and drink heavily. It was just the excuse newly formed Ard Ri Band needed to play with their friends and drink loads of stout.
Under the name Feile Folk it ran in conjunction with the Gasyard Feile and grew steadily to become one of the highlights in the local music calendar (and should not be confused with notorious cheats the French Football Federation). Notable performers over the years include Cashier No 9 and Andy Irvine playing in various locations around the town from the Craft Village to the old Café Del Mondo courtyard to the Glassworks to the Sandwich Company.
As with most independent festivals it becomes harder and harder to organize, and funding becomes harder to come by. And so, after taking a well-earned year out FFF is going back to basics, with the festival will be running on one day, Sunday 18th March in a marquee located on Victoria Market carpark, Derry. Kick-off is at 12.30pm and entry is only £5, tickets will be at door on a first come first served basis so get there early.
Lord P Waldorf told me about the good run the festival had, growing steadily from a daylong event to a weekender, and every festival being special in its own unique way.
Obviously the reformation of The Whole Tribe Sings for the 2013 is a great memory - “the band never sounded better” - as well as the Might Stefan Murphy’s performance in 2010: “His set was outstanding and he owned the stage.”
Returning this year for the day are the Ard Ri Band, Balkan Alien Sound Orkestra, Declan McLaughlin, Eamon Gilmore, Jonny Nutt, Junior Johnson, Paddy Nash and Tara Gi. DuoZuok and Reevah will be making their FFF debuts.
Reevah’s alter ego Aoife Boyle told me: "I'm delighted to be performing at this year's Foyle Folk Festival. It's always a lovely event, showcasing some of the best talent our city has to offer."
Obviously to get to March 18, you have to go through St Paddy’s Day, which will be celebrated in a whole heap of local venues. Sandino’s are hosting a “Monsters Of Metal” night on Friday 16 at 9.30pm and on the day itself a St Paddy’s Day Soiree featuring Fuze & Osilate resident DJs in rotation and a St Patrick’s 80s night featuring Gerard C.
Also on St Paddy’s Eve, Gary Curran and Jim Healy are resurrecting the 1990s for one night of old school upstairs-in-the-Gweedore nostalgia in Fifty Seven (upstairs in the Gweedore for those of you not up to date with current affairs).
There is also a special guest DJ lined up and you should be aware that this trip down memory lane is not to be confused with the old downstairs night where bands played but the old Saturday night when indie delights were all the rage. This is a complete one off and those of a certain age should not miss it.
Bennigans will be hosting Queen & Disco in their beer garden and they will be hosting James Morgan and Darryl Marsden from 2pm until 2am, tickets priced between £3 and £8 are available from skiddle.com.
Oisin Cannon will be on in Brickwork Lounge from 10 on Friday March 16 and then for St Paddy’s Day will be hosting a Liberty Tree Folk Club and Beatnik Soul joint presentation of folk maniacs and maestros D’Bize with support from Teknopeasant and Beatnik Soul DJs after the England v Ireland game. The Sunday trad session continues on March 18 in the bar.
The Guildhall Taphouse will be hosting Jim Walker from 6pm to 8pm on Friday March 16 followed at 11pm by Pragmatic. On the big day there will be trad music from 6pm and food all day and the Cradleys are on the Sunday from 10.
The Grand Central will have live music from Gavin Corey on Friday March 16. There is an Irish legends disco and trad music in the bar on the day and, on Sunday March 18, The Greek will be DJing.
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