Temple Bar, in the heart of Dublin, is a place of contrast. It is known for its pubs and sometimes rowdy drinking scene. It is also the home of The Ark, an internationally respected arts center for children, and two of Dublin’s most vibrant photography galleries. It is a residential area with shops and eating places attracting those who live in the area and visitors both.
Temple Bar has a long history — people have lived in the area for more than a thousand years, since well before the days when Vikings settled nearby. These days you may see outlines of those Viking dwellings marked in the pavement at Wood Quay, and just a few steps away, wander the cutting edge art and design shops in Temple Bar.
At the heart of Temple Bar is music. Contrast and connection living happily side by side infuse Temple Bar’s winter music festival, Temple Bar Trad Fest. Musicians from Ireland stock the program, and there are international visitors, both rising stars and legends, too. Most Trad Fest concerts are held in historic venues in Temple Bar. The area’s pubs make a point to welcome all to music sessions during the festival, too.
In 2018, Trad Fest will take place 24 through 28 January. In addition to concerts there are children’s events, workshops, art exhibits, talks, and pub sessions. The festival is organized into five stands:
Headline concerts featuring top Irish and international artists in iconic Dublin venues.
Front Row Sessions, which are free concerts (tickets must be booked in advance though) featuring well known artists in Irish music, in small venues which create intimate performance settings.
Tradfringe This includes the food related taste trail, art exhibitions, film-screenings, workshops, masterclasses, and related events.
Music Trail, which offers daily music sessions throughout pubs in Temple Bar, with fourteen pubs participating at last count.
Trad Kids focuses on events kids and whole families can enjoy, including family concerts, trad farm with live animals, children’s trad sessions, opportunities for children to try out trad instruments, and art workshops.
The theme of Trad Fest 2018 is trad without frontiers. Highlights include
Headline concerts from Alan Stivell, whose work on the Breton harp has ranged from Celtic and Breton tradition to folk rock, ambient electronic music, and varieties of world music; US folk music icon Judy Collins, who first shared her eclectic understanding of what makes folk music in the 1960s and continues to do so more than five decades on; Laoise Kelly, a pioneer in Irish harp playing; Kaia Kater, who threads her Afro Caribbean ancestry, knowledge of Appalachian music, and Quebec birthplace through the music she creates in her song writing and banjo playing; and Moya Brennan, who shares her Irish heritage through music that honors both contemporary and traditional music.
Front Row Sessions will include performances from Stockton’s Wing, who began sharing their high energy music with Irish audiences in the 1970s; The Fureys, iconic folk family band; and rising folk and trad quartet The Kilkennys.
In the Trad Kids strand, top Irish fiddle and guitar duo Zoe Conway and John McIntyre will offer an acoustic concert geared for early years listeners, while all ages of kids will enjoy the music of the lively trio Socks in the Frying Pan. There is art class which will focus on ways we see music, and a children’s session in which young players are welcome to join. Children with sight challenges are especially invited to visit the trad farm, friendly animals brought to Temple Bar Square by Child Vision, which is an education center for blind children.
All this is quite an achievement for what began as a small niche music festival a dozen years ago. The quality of the musicians they attract is a central element to the festival. The setting helps to make things unique, too. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Saint Werburgh’s Church, The Ark, Rathfarnam Castle, City Hall, and Whelan’s, are a few of the historic venues where concerts take place. Then too there are those pubs where concerts and sessions abound, among them The Norseman, The Porterhouse, The Auld Dubliner, Merchant’s Arch, and the namesake Temple Bar.
This is just a taste of what’s planned during Temple Bar Trad Fest 2018. What if you won’t be making to Dublin for the festival this year, though?
RTE Radio 1’s program Ceili House will broadcast the Trad Gala live on the evening of 27 January. Musicians are set to include Teada, Seamus Begley, Blazin’ Fiddles and Frankie Gavin, which should make for a rousing night. On the following evening another intriguing gala performance, with headliners Alison Moorer and Shelby Lynne, Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, and I Draw Slow is being filmed for later television broadcast by TG4. Other reports during the festival are likely to emerge on RTE and TG4 music programs, most of which are available worldwide on line.
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