Arts Column with Conor Malone

This Week

This Week

The last couple of weeks of June are the tumbleweed days of the arts world – just little bits and pieces here and there but there just doesn’t seem to be all that much going on. It’s more a time for festivals. We’ve had the Rory Gallagher Festival and the Ardara Melting Pot Festival, there’s the Sea Sessions to come. And, of course, there’s The Earagail Arts Festival on the way in July.

In the meantime, here’s what’s on to keep you going: Hypnotist Adrian Knight is at The Millennium Forum nightly until Saturday 23rd; Heats 3 and 4 of Sounds Like Summer are at The Alley, Strabane on Friday and Saturday night; The Henry Girls play at Aislann Kilcar on Saturday; there’s a revival of local institution The Tech Social at The Balor in Ballybofey on Saturday; and Kinks legend Ray Davies plays The Millennium Forum on Sunday.

And..em..that’s more or less it. Next week will be fuller with all sorts of North Atlantic Fiddle Convention related activities. If you’re promoting or participating in upcoming events that you want included in the column, e-mail me at

Sounds Like Summer

The first two heats of The Alley Strabane’s annual music competition Sounds Like Summer took place last weekend with Justin Black (Friday night) and Paul Tully (Saturday) emerging from the talented field to go through to the June 29th final.

There’s another eight acts competing for the final two slots this weekend. Friday night’s heat sees performances from Michelle Walsh, The Burning Wood Savages, Gerard i.2 and MOTH. On Saturday, it’s the turn of The Collectors Club, Shane McCaul, The Red Velvetines and The Heads Of State.

Tickets are from £3 nightly which works out at less than a quid a band, so why not go and check out some emerging talent at The Alley?

Proceedings kick off at 8pm nightly.Ring 048 7138 4444 for more information.

Looking Ahead

I’m thinking ahead here now and the forthcoming weeks of this column are undoubtedly going to be taken up for the most part with Earagail Arts Festival events. So, there are a couple of shows taking place on Friday July 6th, the day before Earagail begins, that I want to flag now before they get squeezed for space and lost in the rush.

The first is Des Bishop at An Grianan. There’s probably little danger of a Des Bishop show flying under the radar. He’s one of the most recognisable faces in Irish entertainment. Chances are, if you’re a comedy fan, you’re well aware that this gig is happening but a little reminder doesn’t hurt. At the time of writing, there are still some tickets remaining for his new show entitled Des Bishop Likes To Bang but don’t leave it too late. Des is practically a guaranteed sell out wherever he plays so, as the old cliché goes, book now to avoid disappointment.

The other gig is a more niche, less mainstream, affair. Canadian bluegrass/roots outfit Viper Central play The Balor. Viper Central’s approach to their music does a really nice job of capturing that sense of creativity and adventure found in the earliest bluegrass and roots recordings. And, while all the members contribute their own original material, the group also don’t hesitate to bring the house down while putting their stamp on some old bluegrass standards.

They have one studio album under their belt to date, The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please, which has earned them lavish praise in their native Canada and marked them down at the forefront of the current North American bluegrass and roots revival.

Des Bishop Likes to Bang is at An Grianan, Letterkenny on Friday July 6th at 8pm. Tickets are €25 and there’s an early bird offer of €20. I’ not exactly sure how early constitutes ‘Early Bird’, so ring An Grianan box office on 074 912 0777 and they’ll fill you in.

Meanwhile, Viper Central play the Balor, Ballybofey also on Friday June 6th. Tickets for this one are €15 and available from The Balor on 074 913 1840.

Acting For Teens

It’s a week of theatre games, mime and improvisation for 13-18 year olds, facilitated by education and outreach worker Ronan Carr. It runs 11am-2pm daily, caters for newcomers and experienced folk alike, and there’s a public workshop at the end of the week where participants will improvise sketches and games so you can see how far they’ve progressed.

For more information or booking ring An Grianan on 074 91 20777.

The Tech Social

An 80’s institution returns to Ballybofey next weekend as the Balor Arts Centre resurrects legendary 80’s disco The Tech Social at The Butt Hall.

Now, I have to admit that I’m only a blow-in, so I’m only going by what I’m told. My wife is Ballybofey born and bred and she assures me that The Tech Social was one of the highlights of their teen calendar - the night that everybody looked forward to and that you used beg and badger your parents to be let go to. Interestingly enough, her parents never did let her go, so next Saturday’s Tech Social will be her very first. No, she’s not frequenting teen discos as part of a mid-life crisis. This Tech Social is aimed at the teenagers of yesteryear who are all grown up, probably with families of their own, yearning to be young again for one night only. So this time, they’ll have to get permission from their children rather than their parents to go.

It’s the brainchild of Finn Harps chairman Joey O’Leary who’s putting it on as a charity fundraser, with all profits going to the Family Enrichment Centre in Stranorlar. It’ll be a night of nostalgia all round with music from the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s, with all genres of music from Ska to Mod, Rock to Goth catered for. And, of course, it wouldn’t be The Tech Social without a few slow sets thrown in for good measure.

The Tech Social will be held this Saturday June 23rd at 10pm at The Balor Arts Centre on the site of the old Butt Hall. Admission is €5 and tickets can be booked in advance. The Balor Box Office is open from Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 5pm or you can call 074 913 1840.

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