Brunswick Music Festival: Lunny & Irvine

The Brunswick Music Festival sent me one of their “keeping in touch: emails the other day which was good because it prompted me to jot some notes down about the concert we went to back in March ( Hey, I’ve been busy). Here is a belated review.

The Date: Thursday 30th March
The Place: Mechanics Institute Hall in Sydney Road.
The Reason: To see two amazing musicians. Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny

One of my friends (Hi Ian) came around and physically removed us (Jools and I) from our computers (“help help” as they struggled… to get to the bar) and rushed us of to Sydney Road. He felt we weren’t getting out enough and as we had missed the Richard Thompson gig a few weeks earlier, he was probably right.

Our evening started out with the warm-up act, a local band called “Triskel” comprising of Sally Taylor on Fiddle , Corey Romeo on Mandolin, Guitar and Gerard Daly on Bodhran, Guitar.

The music was sort of Irish, Scottish?, Breton and was really arranged well, but it was presented as precious “chamber music”. Sad to say there was no real attempt to engage with the audience and it was a pity. Yes I know we were all there to see the other lot but they could have at least tried. The great thing about the Brunswick Music Festival is that a lot of times the “warm-up act can be as interesting as the main act. I know that they go to a lot of trouble to pair the acts up to make sure that we punters get a great night.

I wouldn’t mind hearing them again, but heard nothing that really pushed my hand in my pocket to grab a CD. Don’t get me wrong they CAN play (oh god can they play), but it seems I expect more from performers these days. (Also I cant send you to anywhere you can actually LISTEN to them on the web. Like so many musicians, they haven’t put a sample up anywhere I could find).

Irvine and LunnyWhich after a short intermission brings us to the main event.

The musical combination of Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny is world-renowned and how many people do you know who established a whole new genre in Irish traditional music in the early seventies. The duo were a delight to listen to. Let’s face it, they could have sat up there played a “Plantxy / Bothy Band Greatest Hits” bracket and we all would have gone home feeling well pleased. But NO, instead of taking the easy way out, they played. Boy did they play, we got two brackets of exciting and entertaining music. They took chances, had fun and allowed us to see WHY they are held in such high esteem. No resting on the laurels here.

I had a ball and so did nearly everybody else I could see. The Mechanics Institute is a tiny (200 seats?) venue and at times it felt as though you could reach out and touch the music. Fanciful? Maybe but, you really had to be there.

John McAuslanHere is a picture of our host. John McAuslan. He is the poor bunny, who with his team get all this music together (and have done for 18 years). Thanks John. You will inevitably see us again next year, you always manage to find music that fires me up.

So to the point. To you, our reader. Go and put yourself on the Brunswick Music Festival mailing list. and when they announce the concert lineup next year, if it is too hard to pick between the offerings just shut your eyes and pick something at random. The odds are you will love it.

For more musings of a musical nature, head over to Duggup.


  1. I’ve only just caught up with this blog (it is a blog eh?), and to whoever- thanks so much for the kind words….it does the old heart good when yer weary, and flat, and total uncertainty floods the heid sometimes. And how pathetic is it when you have to google yourself for some ego prod and inspiration- and bingo I found some. I must do it again sometime, but its really great to know people do ‘get it’. Many thanks…….john

  2. John,

    It is a blog. And as to who I am , well I used to mix for you for a while, back in the Poteen days.

    Jools and I missed Tonchi and The Pigram Bros last weekend (bummer) I hope it was a good show. It should have been.

    As I said I really look forward to next years festival. (Here’s a hint Thea Gilmore or Ms. Tunstall… or pushing the envelope… both.)

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