Smithwick's Kilkenny Roots Festival 2017

Tickets are on sale for the 20th Smithwick’s Kilkenny Roots Festival and early indications are that this will be a record year, with over 25% of tickets sold in the first two weeks.

There has been a noticeable increase in overseas bookings from the UK and Northern Europe, in particular. Festival Director John Cleere was a guest speaker at the recent Americana Music Association UK conference, where the panellists (representing four established Americana festivals) discussed how these festivals help upcoming bands and focus audiences.

“It was a great opportunity to promote our festival and Kilkenny in general. I’ve been invited to Denmark as a result and will take the opportunity to spread the word on our festival. The whole event was very well run and other guests included Van Morrison, Imelda May, Jools Holland, Mary Chapin Carpenter and legendary BBC presenter, Bob Harris.

A big issue at the conference was Brexit and the effect it will have on touring bands. The reality is no one has an answer and it’s a case of wait and see for the moment. For this year, at least, it has had no effect on our bookings.”

The programme for 2017 will again feature a mixture of new and established acts.

The Handsome Family, with over 16 million YouTube hits for their theme tune to True Detective, will play a show at the Watergate Theatre to a sell out audience.

Veteran singer/songwriter, Chip Taylor, who wrote a string of hits such as ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Angel Of The Morning’, will play the Set Theatre, accompanied by guitarist John Platania, who has played with Van Morrison for over 30 years. Chip, who is brother of Jon Voight, is a great storyteller and this willbe his only show in Ireland.

Names new to Kilkenny include Yola Carter and Holly Macve.

Yola won the ‘UK Artist Of The Year’ at the UK Americana awards will make her Irish debut and play two shows at the festival .

Another newcomer causing a stir is Holly Macve, whose debut album is released on the prestigious Bella Union label in March. Label boss Simon Raymonde says “Little is known of Holly other than she is a 20 year old from Yorkshire who appeared out of nowhere in Brighton late last year. I had a tip-off to go to a basement bar where she was playing. In a room full of beery boys chatting across all the music beforehand, the minute Holly opened her mouth the room fell silent. Hers is a rare gift.” She has recently toured with John Grant, who within five minutes of hearing her voice, invited her to support him on his UK tour.

Travelling with his band from Nashville is hotly tipped singer Andrew Combs. On his new album, ‘All These Dreams’ he uses his gifts for lyricism and wry observation, Combs weaves tales of love, sin and redemption, in a style that brings together classic country and contemporary pop.

Other acts travelling from the USA for the festival include, Western Centuries, Joan Shelley, Carter Sampson, Paul Cauthen, The Americans and Marah. The Irish music scenw will be represented by David Kitt, Arborist and John Blek.

Tickets are now on sale through the festival website,, and from Rollercoaster Records, Tel 0567763669