John connors

CraicFest22 kicks off at Mercury on March 7

John Connors returns with “Ireland’s Call” on March 7.

By Irish Echo Staff

Belfast hip-hop duo Kneecap will make their U.S. debut at the Mercury Lounge on March 7 as part of CraicFest22.

And award-winning TV and film actor John Connors returns on the night to the East Houston Street venue with his one-man show “Ireland’s Call.”

Described by CraicFest22 as “fairly controversial,” Kneecap are also noteworthy for the fact that they incorporate the Irish language into all of their tunes.

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Founding director Terence Mulligan reported that CraicFest22 is “excited” to provide the forum for Kneecap’s stateside debut. “If you loved Rubber Bandits you will love Kneecap, as they have a similar energy on stage,” he said.

“‘Ireland’s Call’ is back due to popular demand,” Mulligan added. “There’ll be a talk-back after the show with John Connors as well.”

Before its American debut in 2019, Connors told the Echo: “It’s about James and his friends growing up in Coolock [North Dublin]. And having fun and dreaming of going to Ibiza and having a laugh. There’s a love story there, but there’s a critical eye pointed at the Irish establishment.”

It covers the heroin epidemic from the 1980s on and the emergence of gangsterism over the past couple of decades. “That makes it sound really dark and serious, and it is that, but it’s also really funny as well,” said the star of “Love/Hate” and “Cardboard Gangsters.”

The Irish Times’ Mick Heaney commented during the show’s initial run in Dublin that “the charismatic Connors brings vivid life to his character, whether consumed with anger and despair, or unleashing profane asides with verbal vim. And for all its bleak worldview, it’s a drama with a dogged faith in people, not least the flawed but appealing James.”

“Ireland’s Call” could be seen as an extension of the actor’s role as an advocate, not just for working-class people, but also for his own Traveler community, which he said is the most oppressed of Ireland’s minorities.

“The most discriminated against by a wide, wide margin,” he told the Guardian in a filmed interview (available on YouTube).

Connors always welcomes an opportunity to cross the Atlantic.

“I’ve been going over to New York for the past four or five years now. I love it,” he said in 2019. “I absolutely love the place. I’ve a lot of good friends there.”

Connors mentioned in the latter category Mulligan, Irish Echo columnist Brian McCabe, his son the writer Daniel James McCabe, actor Johnny McConnell and writer Colin Broderick.

“They are great people,” he said.

With regard to the Craic Fest’s second leg, the film festival segment, Mulligan said the lineup for March 12-14 will released very soon.

For more details go to here or visit the Craic Fest on Facebook.