In 2013, the National Concert Hall of Ireland's new artistic director, Gary Sheehan, was looking to launch is Perspectives series — a genre agnostic attempt to redefine what art music could be. We decided the crossover is a place where folk, classical and alternative rock traditions meet in unexpected ways without getting bogged down in either classical music conventions or folksie informality. Together, we plotted a weekend that focused on musicians whom, on the surface, seem to be do one thing really well, but actually do an entirely other thing just as well. I.e. A rock guitarist who writes composed music for strings & things (i.e. The National's Bryce Dessner); alternative rock & folk groups whose music sounds unusually well-composed (Buke and Gase, This is the Kit); and, of course, the two main stage concerts which treat 20th century vernacular song with the respect & attention usually reserved for 18th century German dudes in powdered wigs. In a roundabout way, we're trying to show how the song-based traditions of Ireland & Scotland deserve just as much respect.
The Brassland performances kicked off this institution's new Perspectives series — now a hallmark of the hall's programming.
Over two weekend days in December 13 and December 14, we presented a marathon of individually ticketed shows — first three intimate matinee gigs in the theater's recently repurposed Engineering Library and finishs up that evening with our headliner in the main room:
- 3pm: Crash Ensemble performing the music of Bryce Dessner
- 4:30pm: This is the Kit
- 6:30pm: Buke and Gase
On Sunday, comes the European debut of Doveman's Burgundy Stain Sessions featuring:
- Glen Hansard (Swell Season, Once, The Frames)
- Paul Noonan (Bell X-1)
- Lisa O'Neill
We'll add more guests and sidepersons to this post as we confirm them.
Note: the original line-up also included the European debut of Sounds of the South on Saturday night. A set of modernized folks songs featuring Frazey Ford, Matthew E. White with members of Megafaun and Fight the Big Bull performing music collected by American folklorist Alan Lomax. Oh yeah, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon was supposed to be in it too. For
Brassland and the incoming artistic director of the NCH, Gary Sheehan, had known each other since the early '00s when Sheehan was a show promoter in Cork interested in the cross-genre explorations of our artists Clogs and Erik Friedlander. A decade of conversation, became a weekend of magic.
Too much explanation, you say? Well, here's a trailer for what looks to be a sweet ass Alan Lomax documentary about America's "patchwork culture" derived, in this case, from Irish, Scottish & British tradition:
In a less genealogical sense, we think it's self-evident that there's a commonality between the poise & chops that Doveman brings to the singer-songwriter tradition; the intensity and virtuosic-ish-ness of Buke and Gase's take on post-punk; and the way the Sounds of the South and This is the Kit find, in folk music, the same aesthetic aspirations & deep insights into human potential that others find only in composed music. And, of course, the connections between the artists playing our weekend, Ireland and The National's extended family tree shouldn't go unmentioned. For a catch up, check out The Irish Times' recent oral history on The National's decade of memorable concerts in the country or, heck, just look at this gift box which "The U2ers" had delivered to the boys from Cinci backstage in Dublin last month.
Does that answer the question about if there'll be drinks? Did that last quip just lose Doveman a shot at getting Bono to sing a tune with him? (No worries! We're holding out for Sinead, cause she's the boss.)
Anyhoo, the NCH has prepared a press release explaining the weekend right here. Forward that link to any friends who might find Brassland-dot-org style news stories to be overly chatty and rambling.
Original Press Release
The National Concert Hall and New York Label Brassland have collaborated to curate a weekend of music entitled ‘Brassland@NCH’ on 13 and 14 December 2014 showcasing some the label’s biggest artists and like-minded friends. The unique weekend, the final in the National Concert Hall’s flagship series ‘Perspectives 2014’, is hotly tipped to be one of the most anticipated musical events of the year.
The Brassland label which has been described as the ‘centre of New York’s other music scene’ by The Guardian was started in 2001 by Alec Hanley Bemis and twin brothers/musicians Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner, both best-known for their work with The National. The music associated with the Brassland label comes from a place where folk, classical and alternative rock traditions combine in a kind of alchemical reaction; the musicians associated with it are drawn from an extended family of friends and collaborators connected to the American rock band, The National.
Brassland@NCH comprising of 5 unique events, will be anchored by two main evening concerts the first of which features Sounds of the South with Megafaun (from North Carolina), Virginia Jazz Collective Fight the Big Bull and Frazey Ford (lead singer with The Be Good Tanyas) on 13 December at 8pm. Sounds of the South presents hymns, blues and folk ballads captured by Alan Lomax in 1959 during a two month trip through Virginia, the Mississippi Delta and the Georgia Sea Islands.
On Sunday 14 at 8pm, Doveman (aka pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett) presents his Burgundy Stain Sessions which began in 2011 as a monthly salon at (le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan’s West Village. For his concert in Ireland - the second edition of this event staged outside of New York - Doveman will be joined by the who’s-who of folk inspired Irish musicians including Glen Hansard (of The Frames, Once, The Swell Season), Paul Noonan (Bell X1 ), Lisa O’Neill and Sam Amidon.
Other concerts taking place that weekend include: The Crash Ensemble performing the music of Bryce Dessner, composer, guitarist and curator and founding member of the Brassland label, at 3pm on Saturday 13 December. At 4.30pm UK singer and instrumentalist Kate Stables will be joined by a host of musicians for her project This is Kit and later that evening at 6.30pm Brooklyn-based musical duo Buke & Gase will wow audiences with their use of handmade instruments such as the "toe-bourine;" the "buke," a six-string former-baritone ukulele; and the "gase," a guitar-bass hybrid.
Brassland@NCH is the final concert of the National Concert Hall’s Perspectives Series 2014 which is supported by the Irish Independent and Today FM.
Buke and Gase "Houdini Crush" (Live on Other Voices)