THE Set Theatre on John Street, Kilkenny was struck by thunder on Sunday night in the form of global phenomenon, Alabama Shakes.
The American foursome weaved their own special magic as the place shook to the mesmerising voice and guitar playing of lead singer, the big boned, Brittany Howard from Athens, Alabama. And Brittany was almost shaken off top billing on the night by the delectable Amanda Shires. The Texan native was pitch perfect as she delivered song after song with the audience eating out of her hand. It was just one of the many stand-out gigs of the 15th Roots Festival that is worth an estimated E3.5 million to the local economy. Hotels were booked solid while bars and restaurants did a thriving business with visitors from the US, Britain and mainland Europe. The clientele were middle aged, wannabe hippy types with lots of disposable income and a love of real Americana music. They were not disappointed as groups like Israel Nash Gripka, TV Jones and The Tomahawks, Blue Horyzon and Kitty, Davis and Lewis delivered and left people feeling good. Organiser and founder of the event, John Cleere was delighted with the event and said that he had already started work on next year’s line-up. He was particularly pleased with the success of all the free gigs around the city centre and said this was something that really added to the atmosphere of the weekend.
Speaking at a reception for the artists in St Francis Abbey Brewery on Monday evening, Mr Aidan Maher of main sponsors, Diageo said that The Roots Festival was an excellent festival for the Smithwicks brand to be associated with. “One of the most important and best things from Diageo’s point of view is the fact that the publicans in the city have really embraced the festival and have been extremely willing partners in it,” he said. He thanked John Cleere and the rest of voluntary festival committee for all their work and said he was already looking forward to next year.