Unique music festival still strong after 11 years

Eleven years ago when Philip King pitched the idea of a music event on the Dingle peninsula, he couldn’t have imagined it would be still thriving.

As he prepared for the 11th Other Voices over the weekend, he said he believed the location was a huge factor in its uniqueness.

“There’s something about the place, something magnetic.”

The self-contained festival takes place annually in St James’ Church and has built up a devoted fanbase. Year after year, big names make the trek to Kerry, unperturbed by the hard to get to location or logistics.

Two years ago, Aaron Dessner and his band The National took a flight in heavy snow, were diverted to Shannon, and had to drive to Dingle. Last night Dessner accompanied three bands he produced — Local Natives, This is the Kit, and Luluc.

“Coming here in 2010 was such a special experience,” he recalls, “we all felt really enchanted by it. It’s a refreshing side of the music industry. Playing Other Voices reminds you why you play music, it’s a place that has preserved its artistic integrity.”

More than 20 bands played in St James’ Church. Pews were packed, as the audience listened to Villagers and Owen Pallet. Also on the bill were much-talked-about teenagers The Strypes and Soak. The former have just signed to Elton John’s Rocket Management, and 16-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson — aka Soak — gave a jaw-dropping performance at Banter, a new strand to the Other Voices programme.

This year also saw the return of actor Aidan Gillen as host. Familiar to many for his roles in Love/Hate and Game of Thrones, Gillen has been a revelation as a television presenter.

One reason he took the job was his love of music.

“It’s also about the place, the venue, and the history of the show,” says Gillen.

“Everyone knows the bands that play here are well-chosen and the artists feel very free by being here. I came to Dingle at 13 to learn Irish, and the feelings I had at that age about it are still very strong. It’s hard to explain why it’s so special.”

He believes that the big acts “who don’t like to be fussed over” enjoy the low-key experience.


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