Julie Feeney

A country cousin to the orchestral pop musings is Julie Feeney, a brilliant composer and performer from my dad’s neck of the woods in Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway.

She took Manhattan by storm over the summer with her captivating, avant garde performances of her compositions. With a few classically trained musicians behind her and some costume changes, she made an alternative universe in the show I caught at the Irish Arts Center that eventually earned raves from The New York Times.

She will be part of the Craic Fest, the leading festival to introduce the new generation of Irish bands and filmmakers to the public.  Other bands to perform live at this year’s festival include the Tossers, Mark Geary and Colin Devlin. Feeney will headline March 9.

On Friday, March 8 the Tossers, a perennial New York City favorite, will headline.  Both nights of music will take place at the Mercury Lounge.

Feeney is excited to play the Craic Fest, promising a radical change in the performance she did earlier this summer.

“This is an intimate performance with myself and one other musician,” she says. “I like drawing people in that way, just as much as I love the orchestra.

“Sometimes, I think the big orchestra of six or seven instruments can be intimidating. You bring people more into the words and the melody. Because that’s where the song started -- by yourself and scaled down. “

Feeney has been nabbing numerous awards for her album Clocks, which was released in Ireland last year and will likely come to these shores sometime this year.

“It was pretty amazing and I was overwhelmed by it,” she says of the number one chart position for Clocks in its first week.

“I performed 10 different choirs in 10 different cities. All female, all male, all mixed. Each choir had 10 arrangements.  I did a rehearsal tour myself and went around the country and worked with all the choirs and then met them the morning of for more rehearsals. It was a lot of work. I really got to know people in each town, the feel and the character of each.”

While Feeney will be the one to watch, the Craic Fest this year has some of the best singer songwriters ever to strap on an acoustic guitar in Devlin and Geary. For more information, log onto www.thecraicfest.com.