First up, mention must be made of Ken Killeen of the Boom Boom Rooms in Dublin. A young promoter with his heart in the right place - “a philisophical inclusion, and a very important conduit for new talent.” Granted, he may not be a household name, but he was chosen as a symbol or representative of the very vibrant independent scene. Honorable mentions also go to: Bernadette Barrett; distributors/PR and labels (Vital Distributors, Friction, Stevo Berube, Reekus Records, Trust Me I’m A Thief, Out On A Limb, Independent Records, N4, Lakota/V2, Sound Foundation, FIFA, Hardworkingclass Heroes festival, Rubyworks/Ruby Sessions, Faction, RMG, Supremo); producer Dave Odlum and performers Declan O’Rourke, David Hopkins, Joe Chester, Snow Patrol/Ian Archer, Redneck Manifesto/Jape. Special mention to the indie scene’s messiah, David Kitt, who is beginning his first proper assault on the world outside Ireland.
Like all right thinking people, we in the parish have long spoken out about the plague of singer-songwriters that are the scourge of our fair isle. But there are the honorable exceptions: Damien Dempsey has the look of a coming man about him - he didn’t make the list this year, but if your esteemed and exceedingly neutral chair of the judges has anything to do with it ...
And another singer-songwriter who was there or thereabouts is John Spillane, a real late bloomer, who is fast making up for lost time. Also, here’s a little tip for 2006: Declan De Barra from Waterford, still a little raw on the songwriting front but he has some voice on him.
There were a fair few traditional music candidates bubbling under as well: Kila, Grada, Zoe Conway, Danu and Lunasa (both lost out to Dervish), fiddle player Caoimhin Ó Rathaille, Mairtin O’Connor and Jackie Daly both received very special mentions.
Classical music in Ireland seems to be pinning a lot of its hopes on several rising young stars (check out Lyric FM’s 4x4 CD, which features four of our finest young talents) and mentioned in dispatches were Finghin Collins (piano), Ailish Tynan (soprano with “serious star quality”), Fionnuala Hunt (violinist), Brian Byrne (Navan pianist.
Hiphop may be a global soundtrack, but here it is well down the list. Messiah J and the Expert have another in the can - their last displayed Messiah’s awesome flow, but we feel that Expert could get out of the bedroom and away from the computer a little more; a lot of the production was very, well, .... clean.
2006 could also be the year of Laura Izibor, the young Dublin singer and songwriter now ensconsed in Amerikay, and official bearer of the ‘Next Big Thing’ tag. Comparisons are already being made with Aretha and Alicia Keys. We could have our first great soul sensation on our hands and, yes, I did see The Commitments. Best thing Glen Hansard ever did, if you ask me.
This next one mighn’t be such a good indicator of our taste for the cutting edge, but how about 2006 as the year of Brian Kennedy? Well, come on, what about that voice? It goes like this: he walks the Eurovision and somebody persuades him to give up on singing the usual muck, in fact, some of the young indie turks write an album for him and ... OK, he wins the Eurovision, sings the same old stuff and breaks the hearts of all those who regard him as a wasted talent. But he becomes very, very rich.
Some may be surprised that there has been no mention of Dave Fanning. That’s because, as far as most music lovers are concerned, it was producer Ian Wilson and not Fanning who was the musical heart, soul and brains behind the Fanning Show. (And most everything else decent that 2FM do for Irish music.) Now if you’re looking for a DJ, then what about the greatest DJ in the universe, Donal Dineen. “It literally breaks our hearts to exclude him,” said our judges, and then went on to rightfully castigate Today FM for further marginalising Dineen by chucking him on past midnight.
Oh yeah, and Nizlopi will become our latest adopted superheroes in 2006. Adopted, sez you? Why aren’t they just another product of the diaspora?