Catch the Roots or you’ll be sorry and pull your hair out in Kilkenny

John Cleere, Derek Palmer, Key Accounts, Diageo, Lisa Ronayne, Smithwicks Brand Manager and Pat Crotty launching the Smithwicks Kilkenny Roots Festival in the Cellar Bar.  (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)
ONE of the country’s most successful music festivals was launched in Kilkenny city on Wednesday night. The 16th Kilkenny Roots festival will have over 80 ticketed shows with many, most of them, free. It has an international cult following and generates millions of euro in revenue for the local economy but does so without frills and without looking for plaudits.

ONE of the country’s most successful music festivals was launched in Kilkenny city on Wednesday night. The 16th Kilkenny Roots festival will have over 80 ticketed shows with many, most of them, free. It has an international cult following and generates millions of euro in revenue for the local economy but does so without frills and without looking for plaudits.

Already ticket sales for this year’s festival which runs during the May bank holiday weekend from May 3 to 6 are up 40% on last year, according to ticket sales manager, Mr William Meighan of Rollercoaster Records, Kieran Street, Kilkenny.

The founder and general manager of the festival, the ubiquitous John Cleere was his usual unassuming self at the launch paying tribute to the volunteers who make it happen and to the small close-knit team who work year round to bring the best in rhythm and roots to the city. He said they were constantly on their toes and were competing with giants in the promoting industry like MCD and Aikens and had to be ahead of the curve in bringing the finest acts, breaking on to the international scene, like Alabama shakes last years hit of the festival to the Marble City. He has another similar styled, equally amazing act up his sleeve for this year.

Since 1998, The Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival has attracted some of the finest names in the Americana canon; acts like Calexico, Giant Sand, Ryan Adams, Alejandro Escovedo, Mark Eitzel, Guy Clark, Chuck Prophet, Ray LaMontagne,Richmond Fontaine, Rodney Crowell… The list is very long, and these are but a small few names who have been drawn to the magnet of the Marble City Mardi Gras in the past. Country, folk, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, cajun etc…

All forms of what we like to call Americana are well represented over the four days. From midday to midnight audiences wind their way through the medieval streets sampling the huge range of music in the 30 plus venues, hosting over 30 acts from Ireland, USA, Canada, UK and Sweden, with over 80 ticketed and free shows.

There’s a mixture of old and new acts on the free pub gig trail and all styles will be catered for, from swing to bluegrass, rockabilly to cajun, folk and the blues.

Manager of Diageo locally, Aidan Maher said the festival was good association for the Smithwick’s brand. “Being associated with such a high class event run so well is good for us and the product, Mr Maher said at the launch of the festival in St Francis abbey Brewery, Kilkenny.