Time for the Rhythm ‘n’ Roots

Tess Felder

Tess Felder


IT may be a few weeks before Barack Obama comes to Ireland, but Kilkenny will be the home of an Americana extravagana this weekend with the 14th annual Smithwick’s Rhythm ‘n’ Roots Festival.

On the bill are over 80 ticketed and free gigs from Friday to Monday, plus a bit of art and a film – and the four-day event has just been named ‘Festival Pick of the Week’ by the website www.kadmusarts.com, which tracks festivals around the world.

The lineup features the new visitors and classic favourites such as John Grant, Stacie Collins, Little Miss Higgins, Sam Amidon, Frontier Ruckus, TV Jones and the Tomahawks, Loudest Whisper, Elvis Fontenot, Memphis Cats, Louisiana Joyride, Jezzebelle, Raglan Rodeo, The Dirty Blues Band, Rumbleshack, Bobbie Carey – the list goes on...

Several acts have been in particularly high demand, with Drive By Truckers’ Sunday night gig in the Set Theatre among the first to sell out, along with Beth Orton’s two originally scheduled shows. The last remaining tickets for her added gig on Sunday at 3pm are expected to go today (Wednesday). There are also two lineup changes: Hans Chew’s Sunday afternoon gig at 2pm has been moved to Ryan’s, and the Timber Timbre gigs listed in the festival brochure have been cancelled.

The musicians are already starting to arrive, and there will be a couple of “warm-up gigs” in Ryan’s and Cleere’s tomorrow (Thursday) night, where some of the acts are expected to drop in.

Also leading up to the festival, tonight (Wednesday) at 8.30pm Billy Byrne’s pub on John Street, Kilkenny will be screening Oil City Confidential as its weekly free film. With contributions from members of The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols, this portrait of British pub-rockers Dr Feelgood is written by Stephen Malit and directed by Julien Temple. It features the storytelling ability of original Feelgood guitarist, who will also be playing two gigs at the festival: on Saturday at 11pm in the Set Theatre and on Sunday at 3pm in the Kilford Arms.

Art-wise, Friday’s Late Date at the National Craft Gallery at 6pm will feature an informal tour of the current ‘Irish Craft Portfolio 2011’ exhibition, with musical assistance from Hans Chew; and throughout the festival, artist Catherine Barron will be creating drawings of the sights and sounds of the festival, which will then form the basis of an exhibition during the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August.

For tickets or more information, contact Rollercoaster Music, Kieran Street, Kilkenny; 056 7763669; or info@kilkennyroots.com.