Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Culture & Captain Magic Wonderland

Dun Laoghaire is full of knackers, drunks and swearing. At least it was when I grew up. Nowadays you’re more likely to see a drum circle than a bottle fight. Especially in late August when the County Council pull their fingers from the moist regions of their persons and deliver the greatest free festival in the country.

This year I only had time to visit on Saturday morning, and by the time I left, I was searching for excuses to postpone my evening appointments. If you’ve never been, and you’re at home checking the web right now, get off your arse and take a look. There’s still a whole day of merriment to be had. It’s just a DART away.

The Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures was started in 2001 by Jody Ackland. It celebrates music, food, dance, fashion and fun, global style. And it’s free. Ahem. It’s FREE. Did you get that? In Dublin, nothing’s free. Even buskers look at you funny. Music costs. That’s the way it is.

But down in Kingstown, the homeland, as it were, I was once again awed by the conglomeration of musical diversity. You could taste the atmosphere in the air, like the scent of crackling Bratwurst. Children, grown-ups, tourists and locals, all of us tip toed on the edge of excitement, ready to be drowned in carnival frenzy. By the seaside, there was a barrage of sounds, one minute a quintet of singing, dancing lederhosen, belting their hearts out like strained pigs doing tap dance, the next minute, blue wearing samba drummers grinning like happy devils. Winding through the stalls, past ice-cream, falafel, sushi and burrito vendors, the main stage thrummed like a patriot, the mighty woofers vibrating to the patter and call of a tourist Ceilí. This, for me, was the only disappointment. Irish music doesn’t have to be bland. Look at Kíla. But here, they had bland in buckets and spades. For the opening set of an afternoon fiesta, it looked like they’d picked up a CD in the Kilkenny shop and asked the group to attend. It was boring, watery trad, the stuff the visitors will pay for, but certainly not the spirit the youth of Ireland like to celebrate. It felt like I’d walked into Fitzsimons of Temple Bar on a Tuesday afternoon. Touristy, desperate and sparse.

That being said, it prepared me for a great turn in my emotion as minutes later I happened upon what can only be described as the Sexy Courtyard. Porn grooves slunk between a gyrating crowd, as funk-blues shook the paving stones. Captain Magic Wonderland had migrated from their usual busking spot in town to a small corner of Dun Laoghaire, right by the Kingston Hotel. They’re a five piece Blues / Funk / Tango set, as much deep bass, fiery vocals and elastic rhythm as dulcet violin, popping bongos and Latino swing. If you haven’t seen them in Temple Bar, CHECK THEM OUT. I’m cheap, but I still bought the CD. That good.

DIARIT: 10/10

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