Is it spring yet?
Actually, what I meant to type was, hello! And, welcome to a new weekly Irish music column.
According to Ryan Seacrest and annoying Donnie Wahlberg spouse Jenny McCarthy, it’s a brand new year. So I’ve accepted the challenge of adding my perspective to the Irish Voice’s excellent music coverage.
I’ll be focusing on news, up-and-coming artists and new releases. Everyone is fair game, so coverage will include everyone from U2 to One Direction to the Dropkick Murphys to local acts who are heating up the tri-state area. With feedback from you, the readers, we’ll find The Next Big Thing.
I’ll try not to lavish too much attention on my “pets” -- eventually, you’ll figure out who they are -- and I’ll keep an open mind and ear for a wide variety of styles.
Because I’m all about the bass -- I mean, about the interactive -- you’ll find lots of links scattered throughout the column. In cases where the address is long, they’ll shortened using bit.ly (which is why they look like gibberish).
I don’t pretend to be some big authority on what’s worth streaming through your headphones, but I will offer some reasonable suggestions. Feel free to disagree and recommend your favorites!
I’ll devote some space every week to your feedback, and share links if they’re interesting. My scope is Irish and Irish American rock, pop, folk, showband (I’m a shameless Declan Nerney fan) and any exciting fusion of genres.
So drop me a line to say hi. I’ll be checking Playlist@irishvoice.com, or follow me on Twitter, @PlaylistIV.
Oh, and forget that bit about Declan Nerney.
In entertainment terms January, not April, is the cruelest month. Movie studios dump their worst movies into theaters, TV networks rush out new shows to replace the ones that sank in the fall. And the music scene gets off to a slow start, with most important acts scheduling their releases to coincide with the Grammys.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of music news.
Irish rockers U2 are scheduled to hit the road in May for the first leg of their Innocence and Experience tour. The first show, set for Vancouver, Canada on May 14, will take place a scant six months after Bono’s catastrophic bicycle accident in New York. It’ll also kick off just four days after a major milestone: his 55th birthday.
The high speed collision -- which left the singer with a broken shoulder. elbow, finger and eye socket -- may have affected Bono’s future as a guitar virtuoso. In a year-end note, “Little Book of a Big Year” posted on U2.com, he joked that this developments wouldn’t cause Jimmy Page to lose any sleep, but did admit that it would be a disadvantage when writing songs. To read the A to Z list, which is surprisingly frank and informal, visit http://bit.ly/13MvgIy.
Craic-ing Good Time
The Craic Music Fest hits town on March 7, at the Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street in New York. This year’s talent features Pat Maguire and Julie Feeney.
It’s a one-night only event, so get your tickets early ($15 advance, $20 at the door) at mercuryloungenyc.com. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Maguire’s show starts at 9:30 p.m. and Feeney follows at 10:30 p.m.
There’s sure to be plenty of -- you should pardon the expression -- craic, and the event’s founder, Terence Mulligan, always guarantees a great night out. Both performers are excellent, though I’ll admit to a small bias: Maguire’s track “Talk to You” (from 1994’s Paddy-A-Go-Go) is in about 10 playlists on my iPod.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1ATmsz5.
Bang on the Ear
When it gets snowy here, Ireland looks like a tropical paradise -- 40 degrees and rainy beats sub-freezing New York any day.
Another advantage to being in Ireland at the moment is that I’d be able to stream the Waterboys’ new album, Modern Blues, which is not yet available in the U.S.
The new record is the band’s 11th studio album, and will be released this week in Europe. If you’re dying for a taste, have a listen to the first track, “Destinies Entwined,” at the band’s website, www.mikescottwaterboys.com.
There are no U.S. shows planned, so if you have a yen for a bit of Michael Scott, there’s a selection of videos on the home page. Or you could do what I do and mash Fisherman’s Blues (1988) and Room to Roam (1990) into a giant playlist and put it on repeat.
It’s Hozier’s Year
Roll up your groundcloth, warm up the Prius and get ready to obsess over your carbon footprint.
The Coachella festival returns to the California desert again this spring, and this time it will feature Irish hottie (er, singer) Hozier.
The “Take Me to Church” singer will be on the bill with headliners AC/DC (sadly, minus Malcolm Young), Jack White and Drake. If you’re not doing anything pressing on the weekends of April 10-12 or 17-19, head west. And bring your sunscreen.
If you’re going to be in Ireland at the end of May, Hozier will be playing support to the Foo Fighters at Slane. The show is May 30, and tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com
To check out Hozier’s single, currently at the number five position on the iTunes singles chart, visit http://bit.ly/1Dd4GW0.
Switched to Overload
In other music news, Boomtown Rats frontman and Live Aid founder Bob Geldof is mourning the passing of his Aunt Mai, who died this week at the age of 106.
The former dressmaker, who was the sister of Geldof’s dad, died in the Sandymount, Dublin house where she was born and in which she had lived her entire life.
Geldof, who lost his daughter Peaches to a drug overdose last April, seems to be focused on keeping busy these days.
He reunited with his Boomtown mates last year, organized current stars for a Band Aid 30 charity single and announced plans to hold Live Aid 30 this summer. He’s also booked the Rats for shows in Dubai, Germany and England.
While Bob is best known (musically) for punk-influenced, First Wave classics like “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays,” his later work shows that his talent runs deep. To listen to his brilliant, though sadly obscure post-Live Aid album, 1991’s The Vegetarians of Love, check out http://bit.ly/1DBV75z.