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I’m forever recommending gigs I know, but one is on the horizon that I’m immensely excited about. The uber talented Sam Amidon is bound for these shores this weekend, and he’s playing two of my favourite venues; my old stomping ground in Sligo The Model, and The Sugar Club in Dublin, which was so effective for Agnes Obel earlier this year.
Sam Amidon is an american musician who’s largely made a name for himself with his unique and modern reworkings of folk tunes. His albums rarely have any original tracks on them, but when the songs themselves are so beautifully and originally arranged it hardly seems to matter. I first fell in love with his music via a track called Sugar Baby – a reworking of an Appalachian tune by Dock Boggs – that Donal Dineen used to play on his show about 2 years ago, although Ray in DeBarra’s in Cork had mentioned the young musician in dispatches earlier much earlier.
I think I’ve honestly played Sugar Baby hundreds of times (iTunes tells me it’s 267, but I’m sure it’s more) and it finds its way onto my favourite mix tapes and playlists. Although It’s from All is Well, and this run of gigs focuses on the newer album I See the Sign, I’ll be silently hoping for an encore appearance. It’s the most beautiful and restful song, and the sounds are so resonant, that it slays me every time. It’s one I played over and over again in hospital.
He seems like an interesting guy and a real artist, and these shows sound like an altogether immersive experience of sound and vision, with field recordings, visuals and drawings all featuring alongside the music. He also seems to have deep connections with irish music, citing the Paul Brady/Andy Irvine album as a huge inspiration, alongside the musicianship of Tommy Peoples. It’s something that certainly comes across in his fiddle and banjo playing, but the extra textures and layers to his tracks, especially the male female vocal harmonies on the current album, or the appearance of low cello or trumpet, give them that contemporary feel.
Despite booking tickets for him countless times, I have a long history of missing his gigs at every turn, often due to volcanoes and snow and illness, so I’m determined to get to one of them this weekend. I’d actually love to be seeing him in DeBarras next week but the diary says no. If you’re partial to folk music I’d urge you to catch these shows if you can, and if you’re not in Sligo or Dublin this weekend he’s in Cork (Triskel and DeBarras) and Galway the following week- see here for dates. Below is a great example of how compeltely he makes a track his own – in this case R.Kelly’s Relief; one of my favourites from I See the Sign.
Sam Amidon’s version
and the original…
Earlier this month The Irish Times published a great little guide to Sligo, in collaboration with Failte Ireland. Lots of times you read this type of thing and, as a local, don’t recognise the place you live, for good or bad reasons. This one was different though, Not only did I recognise the place they were describing, but it covered nearly all the best bits of Sligo that I include when I’m in my own tour guide mode with visiting pals. Lots of my Top 10 things to do in Sligo made an appearance, in one guise or another, but I see the Magic Road alluded them once again, it must be the magic….
The supplement, which you can download via the link below, or by clicking on the image up top, is a great reference guide, and would make an excellent pocket guide for any type of traveller. I was particularly thrilled to see so much culture and lifestyle entries; great foodie recommendations, culture summaries and a special focus on Sligo Music, which is in abundance in all forms in Sligo town and county, as a quick glance at sligomusic.ie will usually show you.
I think the publication was the first time, or one of the first times, that the new Sligo brand was used;“Sligo, Set your Spirit Free”. It’s a brand I really like, and I’m usually very critical of visual identities, especially the tag line. This one however, also seems to concur with the Sligo I know, a place that can set your spirit free in lots of ways; surfing, golfing, eating, listening to music, walking, visiting arts and culture events, or ancient historic sites, or just contemplating the landscape. The actual coloured text took me a few minutes to settle into, but it’s really grown on me. For some reason it immediately reminded me of Dakar’s photos of Sliglow (a project for Culture Night Sligo 2010), something in the free-flowing, yet painterly aspect of the font. It could reference anything from cave painting to street art and all that came in between, while still looking very natural and “of nature”. When I looked up the official line it said; “The brushstrokes are inspired by the paintings of Jack B Yeats, the vertical limestone features of the landscape and the crashing Atlantic waves.” which is even better; Sligo’s three big selling points; landscape. culture and water all rolled into one. Well done Zero G
Download the pdf: Sligo – Irish Times 6th July 2011
News of a great exhibition for Sligo appeared in my inbox today. A week long illustration based show, it features brilliant local artists like Wayne O’Connor and national heroes like Chris Judge, who’s exhibiting the first works from his Key Frames project. Here’s the official blurb, but get yourself along from July 17th as it’s only there for a week.
The Yeats Building in Sligo will play host to a week long exhibition entitled Through The Looking Glass. Drawing together the work of several Irish Artists from around the country, the exhibition will open on Sunday 17th July at 6pm. Each of the artists works in an illustrative style and come from backgrounds informed by Animation, Illustration and Street Art.
Chris Judge is a Dublin based illustrator and painter who was a guest speaker at this years Childrens Book Conference and recently took part in the ‘Unflattering Portraits’ promotion in Sligo.
Wayne O Connor is a Sligo based artist who has been published in several fantasy and Science fiction games and draws influence from his interest in those genres.
James Gammell is a concept artist and illustrator from Limerick who has worked on various franchises including Judge Dredd.
Patrick O Callaghan is another Dublin Based animator who has worked with a variety of clients including Brown Bag Films.
Finally Daniel Bourke is another Dublin artist whose work was recently featured prominently in the international art magazine Imagine FX. Each of the artists work in a variety of mediums across both traditional and Digital formats so the show promises to an intriguing mix of pieces. All the work will be available for sale.
The show opens officially at 6pm on Sunday 17th July and wine and music are promised, so you’ve no excuse. It’s great to see this sort of thing being put on in Sligo, so fairplay to the organisers.