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Winter Music Festival - overview

With Sarah Jarosz and Mick Flannery having already played this week it is safe to say the White Horse Ballincollig Winter Music Festival is already in full swing. But tonight’s concert promises to be a rare treat for those interested in Americana, Appalachian and bluegrass music.

Playing fiddle, banjo and Cajun accordion, multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell has recorded and performed with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Jack White, Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Loretta Lynn. But there are several more stroings to his mighty bow. Powell has worked with such film directors as Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Edward Burns and Anthony Minghella. Through the latter’s Cold Mountain he struck up a friendship with Brendan Gleeson which saw the Dublin actor dig out his fiddle and join in on sessions with Powell. Maintaining a strong affinity to Irish and Scottish traditional music, Powell selected, arranged and performed traditional Appalachian music for Riverdance. He also performs with his Cajun group Balfa Toujours and has released albums on the legendary label Rounder Records.

Tomorrow evening sees a double bill featuring local hero Jack O’Rourke and Hattie Webb. One half of the Webb Sisters, Hattie and her sister Charley have a number of album and single releases under their belts but they are most closely associated with Leonard Cohen, who chose the duo as his backing singers in 2008 for his first tour in 15 years. In an odd coincidence Hattie released her first solo EP, Mouth of the River, in the same week as Cohen passed away. She is about to release her debut album To the Bone. Playing harp with loops, Webb’s songs are sensuous and ethereal.

Webb and O’Rourke developed a rapport when the pair met during the recording of Other Voices last December so expect each one to appear at some point during the set of the other.

Saturday 28, promises a full day of music. Kicking off at 2:30PM with a triple bill of Maighréad and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, the David Munnelly Trio and the Caoimhín Vallely Trio. Having come to prominence as a fiddle player in local folk outfit North Cregg, Vallely has since established himself as a highly lyrical piano player, deftly blending trad with subtle jazz and classical touches, as particularly apparent on his recent self-titled release.

Culture Vultures takes place a 5PM and at 8:30PM evergreen local indie heroes The Frank and Walters will play tracks from a career that is steadily stretching towards its third decade and on the evidence of their recent album Songs for the Walking Wounded they show no signs of slowing down. This is already sold out.

Keeping the Cajun and bluegrass theme established by Dirk Powell going but with an added zest of zydeco are local good time favourites Two Time Polka. Admission to see the energetic six-piece is free.

Sunday evening sees another hefty line up of trad music legends as Mairtín O'Connor, Zoe Conway and Donal Lunny will be joined by Bothy Band fiddler Kevin Burke.

Bringing the weekend to a close will be Alabama folk rock quartet The Mulligan Brothers. None of whom are Mullighans.