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Return to Camden Town 2018
The fabulous Return to Camden Town Festival is back for its 20th edition in October
A Festival that started at the tail end of last century which has hosted hundreds of the most wonderful traditional Irish musicians, singers and dancers, entertained thousands from across the globe, celebrated living legends and those who have passed, spawned numerous new musical collaborations, ignited and strengthened friendships within the immediate community and across waters, helped to educate a whole generation of new exponents of the tradition and more – has much to celebrate in its 20th anniversary year.
Return to Camden Town Festival was founded in 1999 by like minded souls: Karen Ryan (Irish music teacher), Geoff Holland (Set Dancing Teacher) and Jerry Kivlehan (Director of the London Irish Centre at the time). Karen remains the Director of the Festival to this day, working with great team members at various points over the last two decades. The Festival has been a huge annual focus for the Irish community in London – a strong community which continues to grow as young Irish emigrants grace new shores. It has been the catalyst for bringing the genre to many new and mainstream venues and events in the capital city. The team’s foundation of the organisation ‘IMDL’ (Irish Music and Dance in London) in 2014 formalised intentions to do wider work throughout the year to ‘spread the gospel’ of Irish music, song and dance in the city and further afield. One of IMDL’s recent proud achievements is the relaunching of the youth project ‘The Trad Gathering’ which brings together 60 great young musicians between the ages of 12 and 25 from different music teachers across London to rehearse and play music at high profile events. In the last two years, the group have studied and performed music from the repertoire of the highly regarded Leitrim fiddler, Bryan Rooney and the renowned musical family from County Clare, The McCarthys.
The 20th Return to Camden Town Festival takes place from Tuesday 23rd through to Monday 29th October 2018 – seven days of concerts, céilÍs, workshops, album launches, sessions and more. Events will be hosted at venues in and around the London Borough of Camden.
Tuesday sees Glasgow’s Friel Sisters share a concert bill at Camden’s intimate Green Note venue with London lads, James Carty (flute), Gary Connolly (accordion) and this year’s Festival poster boy, Reg Hall (piano) in his 85th year. Wednesday welcomes Buttons and Bows to the luxurious Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood for a concert which will be opened by the Fair Plé Ladies of London. Two young bands will entertain the crowds on Thursday evening at the Fiddler’s Elbow, Kentish Town – Socks in the Frying Pan from County Clare and Nóta from London. As in previous years, Friday evening will host 2 concerts in different venues – for lovers of song, the four piece acapella traditional singing group: ‘Landless’ will perform at the Musical Traditions club at the King and Queen, Euston and at Kings Place in the neighbouring King’s Cross, there will be a double bill concert featuring Frankie Gavin’s Roaring 20’s Orchestra (with Emma Corbett (melodeon), Martin Murray (banjo) and Carl Hession (piano)) and members of The Tulla CéilÍ Band (Charlie Harris (accordion), Mark Donnellan (fiddle) and Jim Corry (piano)).
Then it will be ‘all go’ in all spaces at the London Irish Centre on Camden Square, morning, noon and night on Saturday and Sunday with instrumental, dancing and singing workshops, album launches, afternoon and evening concerts and céilís as well as sessions at the venue and in local pubs. The impressive line-up of artists performing and teaching over the weekend include: Mairtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden and Séamie O’Dowd, The Tulla Céilí Band, Mairéad Casey, Mary Bergin and Mick Conneely, Garadice (featuring Eleanor Shanley (vocal), Padraig McGovern (uilleann pipes), Dave Sheridan (flute) and John McCartin (guitar)), John Carty, Bryan Rooney and friends, Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha and Tommy Mellett, Kelly and Colm Gannon with Padraig O’Dubhghaill, Órlaith McAuliffe, Daithí Gormley, Dylan Carlos and Catherine McHugh, The Dublin Lasses (featuring Majella Beirne (flute), Aoife O’Connor (concertina) and Mary Corcoran (piano)), Theresa O’Grady, Pat Connolly, Terence O’Flaherty and more.
Then to round things off nicely on the Monday afternoon, there’ll be a concert featuring Eleanor Shanley (vocal) and John McCartin (guitar), plus London based legends – Mick O’Connor (banjo), Tom O’Connell (accordion) and Mick Bailey (guitar).
You might struggle to find such a high concentration of the top traditional Irish musicians, singers and dancers in any other town on any other week – so be sure check out full details of all these events plus the Festival’s brilliant session programme, and book your tickets at www.returntocamden.org or at www.irishmusicinlondon.org
See you there.