Lankum is headed for the U.S. next month.
By Daniel Neely
Season’s greetings everyone! We’re in the home stretch, best wishes to you and your family as you prepare for a wonderful Christmas!
Lankum, a four-piece group from Dublin comprised of Ian & Daragh Lynch, Cormac Mac Diarmada, and Radie Peat, is truly one of my favorite current acts. They set incisive original songs with material taken from the traditional repertoire to fiddle, pipes, concertina, and guitar accompaniment. The result is a thick and captivating sound with intense, penetrating lyrics that makes their website’s motto, “Dublin folk miscreants” as apt a description of the group and their music as you’re likely to see.
A short while ago, Ian, the group’s piper, reached out to let me know that the band would be embarking on a short U.S. tour this January, with stops in Brooklyn, Vienna, Va., Sellersville, Pa., Cambridge, Mass, and Barre, Vt. Longtime readers will remember my very enthusiastic reviews of their albums “Cold Old Fire” (which was recorded under the group’s former name, “Lynched”) in 2014 and “Between The Earth and Sky” last year, so you can imagine my excitement – it’s great that American audiences will have a chance to acquaint themselves with their music.
If you’ve followed Lankum since the release of their last album you’ll be well aware of the wild ride they’ve been on. In addition to a critically acclaimed video for their song “The Granite Gaze,” they won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for “Best Group” and “Best Original Track” (“The Granite Gaze”), a RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Award for “Best Folk Group” and another for group member Radie Peat for “Best Folk Singer,” and were one of the featured bands at legendary Pogues frontman Shane McGowan’s 60th birthday party, a concert event that included various Pogues, Nick Cave, Sinead O’Connor, Bono, Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard, Lisa O’Neill, John Sheahan and many, many others. If that weren’t enough, they maintained a busy touring schedule (including performances at large festivals like IMBOLC and Tønder) and even sang Irish rebel songs with Boy George on BBC One’s popular TV program “Who Do You Think You Are?”
These shows are going to be excellent. As versed in the music of Luke Kelly, Frank Harte, Frankie Armstrong, the Watersons and Christy Moore as they are in bands like the Pogues, the Clash, Guns and Roses, the Sex Pistols, and Crass, Lankum is an important group that sings songs for today – a more intriguing act you’re not likely to find. NYCers, I’m not sure how much seating is left for the Brooklyn show, but if you’re interested in going (and you really should, especially if you’re a singer) I’d suggest moving quickly as I’ve heard more than the normal amount of chatter about them, much of it coming from outside the traditional Irish music community.
Lankum’s New York gig will take place on Saturday, Jan. 5 at Rough Trade NYC, which is at 64 North 9th St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Doors are at 8:00pm, show’s at 9:00pm, with tickets available through www.roughtradenyc.com. This is your first opportunity to see Lankum in the City, but hopefully it won’t be your last. (BTW, if you plan to be in Cork in March, they’ll be performing with my friend Jimmy Crowley at St. Luke’s on St. Patrick's Day! That’ll be some show!) For more information both about the band and their upcoming tour dates, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, visit www.lankumdublin.com.
Speaking of Saturday, Jan. 5: should you be in the mood for some afternoon music to whet your whistle before the Lankum gig (or if you’re just all the way downtown, enjoying the sights), please consider stopping into my brand new session at the Beekman Pub (www.thebeekmanpub.com). Located at 15 Beekman St., right across from City Hall in Lower Manhattan, The Beekman opened in 1936 and has been owned by brothers Jimmy and Eddie Robinson since 1991. This one will be a new weekly session and runs on Saturdays from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Like my old session at Lillie’s, I’ll be the regular host and I’ll feature a new guest musician every week. Hope to see some of the old gang as well as a few new faces! Contact me through danieltneely.com with any questions.
And while I’m on the topic of sessions, I’ll close with a hearty congratulations to Brian Conway, whose session at Dunne’s Pub in White Plains, N.Y., celebrates its 21st year this week. A familiar name to many, Conway is one of the pillars of Irish music in New York and is one of traditional music’s finest fiddle players. For more than two decades he has made Dunne’s one of New York’s great homes for Irish music. Not only has virtually every major name in Irish music been a guest there at one point or another, Dunne’s has been a launch point for several of today’s finest younger players, many of whom came up as Conway’s students. Conway’s featured guest this week is his nephew Kieran Flanagan, who was the 2016 Under 18 All-Ireland Champion on piano. For more information, visit www.brianconway.com.