Various venues, Castlewellan, Thursday, july 15-18
After managing eight successful years of the annual Celtic Fusion International Musical Arts Festival, Down District Council has handed control of the event over to the Newcastle & Castlewellan Comhaltas this year, with assistance from the East Down Rural Community Network.
With the continuing emphasis on quality music performed by talented local and international acts, little has changed as the event returns to Castlewellan for its ninth year.
Running ahead of The Ulster Fleadh (July 18-25), the festival aims to unite the best artists from the traditional and modern music scenes with a line-up featuring Sharon Shannon, Eddi Reader, Mick Hanly, Artie McGlynn, At the Racket and others.
Things kick off with a trio of concerts at the town’s Lodge Cultural Centre, opening on Thursday with one of Scotland’s finest singers and most celebrated songwriters, Eddi Reader, supported by local girl Ria Maguire.
On Friday, two stalwarts of the Irish Music scene, Mick Hanly and Arty McGlynn, rekindle a successful musical relationship, with Hanly’s unique songwriting and storytelling skills joining McGlynn’s virtuosity on guitar for a promising night of song and music.
Renowned for her collaborations, not just in Irish traditional music but through all musical genres, Sharon Shannon is in the spotlight on the Saturday.
The accordionist is backed by traditional musicians Gerry O’Connor, Dezi Donnelly and Jim Murray, while support comes from Donegal-based Scottish singer/songwriter Ian Smith.
Other attractions include the lively trad/rock/reggae band Kila (above), Brian Houston, Tupelo and Donal Lunny’s TV band, Cirrus. For full festival details tel: 028 4461 0747/ www.celticfusion.co.uk .