Category Archives: Irish Music

Vlog 76 Temple Bar TradFest

For the past few days most of my days have been just playing sessions, as the Temple Bar TardFest is on. So todays vlog is all about music. I am extremely lucky to have a chance to play with some great players, and I hope these clips give you a flavour of it. The sound could be bit better, but I haven’t yet figure out a practical way to capture the sound during these sessions, but I will be working on it 🙂 And don’t forget that we play these sessions all year around Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in The Porterhouse. If you make it to Dublin, pop in and say hello.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy it 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Where do we draw the line?

violinHow far should we go to stand our ground when it comes to out art? I have been stubborn in the past, to the detriment of me not being as financially successful as I could have been. But this was important for me. I did not pursue a dream to compromise all along the way. But like with everything, there has to be a middle ground. I mean, artist does need to eat and pay the rent. So where do we draw the line?

Well obviously this should come down to every individual. With out a fraction of doubt, if you build your career on pleasing the masses, playing what you assume every one wants to hear, there will not be much room for artistic expression. You see having artistic value and entertaining the crowds are two different things. Of course a great artist can deliver on both fronts.

I am in the west of Ireland at the moment and last night we were listening to some traditional Irish music in the local bar. Many of you know I have played Irish traditional music for years. There are regional styles all around the country. In Dublin the musicians tend to play faster, where as in Co Clare the fiddle style is much more fluid, or even poetic. The company I was in consisted of some people who were familiar with Irish traditional music and some people who had very little experience of it. Listening to their comments, it was funny to see how their perception was very different. The general view was that the music was good, but maybe bit boring, as it was much slower than what they had heard few days before in Dublin.

I knew the music was of very high standard, I enjoyed it a lot. But I can see where my traveling companions where coming from as well. And I bet somewhere along the way the local musicians have been asked to “liven it up a bit”. But if they would have followed this advice, they would have gone against what they fell is right in their hearts.

So I ask again, where do we draw the line? Well in my experience, if you stick to your guns, be true to your self, it will lead much more sustained career, where as if you take the road of “playing the hits” or “speeding up” you gain instant reward, but that is all it is.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Temple Bar Tradfest 2015

Temple Bar TradfestTemple Bar Tradfest is once again nearly here. This festival is now on it’s 10th year bringing light in to our January blues. It is also growing in to bigger event every year. But bigger is not always better 😉

Last year we noticed so many people wandering the streets of Temple Bar with instruments looking for sessions to join in. Traditional session has been a very important part of the music scene here in Ireland and is very much responsible for keeping the Traditional music live and kicking. In the early days of the Temple Bar Tradfest the session was part of it, but over the years the pub trail turned in to amplified pub concerts.

So with the immense support from the Porterhouse, where I play with Sliotar most weekends, we got together with few friends and decided to try to revive the traditional session in Temple Bar, which they also call the cultural quarter. We all had an idea it would be a nice thing, but none of us expected the feedback we got. It turned out this was what the people wanted. We get tourists wondering almost daily to tell us this was what they have been looking for all the way through their visit to Ireland, and finally in the Porterhouse they found it.

The session is just musicians playing in the corner of the pub. It is all acoustic, no amps, no microphones and anybody can join in. Our session is now a regular event every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 5-8pm in the Porterhouse. But during the Tradfest we will be there most days 🙂

Also there will be program on the main stage in the Porterhouse as well 🙂 On Thursday the 29th they have from 8.30-10.30pm the wonderful Colm Lynch and from 11pm till closing the legendary Porterhouse stable guitar hero Woodsey. On Friday the 30th of January they have Mundy from 6-8pm, Sliotar from 9-11pm and at midnight the Usual suspects will rock the house until the early hours of Saturday morning. On Saturday 31st I am back there with Sliotar at 9-11pm, followed by Crosstown at midnight. And to finish off the festival on the 1st of February Sliotar will be doing our Sunday set from 6-9pm followed by Jaker. And as I mentioned before, on most days, except Friday, there will be a session downstairs before the music starts upstairs.

You can also find the Official program of the Tradfest HERE

Hope to see you at the festival 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Bad live sound

live desk It is Sunday 3rd of August the morning after the last show of Sliotar‘s 2014 Summer tour. I’m scheduled to arrive home Monday night. It’s a very mixed bag of feelings always at this point. Part of me can’t wait to go home and part of me would like the tour to continue. But that’s the life of a musician 🙂 You get back home and try to get back to “normality”.

Sliotar is a great band to tour with for several reasons. The Music being on top of the list, but also the guys are experienced travellers and performers. There is a level of professionalism in everything we do. But also for most sound men Sliotar is an easy band to do sound for. Due to this fact we haven’t had the need to have our own sound man so far. This is usually no problem, but from time to time you get those nights when either the equipment or the sound mans experience lets you down.

In these occasions many bands crumble. We have seen bands fighting with a sound man in a sound check and sometimes in a middle of the show. We’ve even seen bands under the pressure start to fight among themselves. When I see these occasions, I do realise how lucky I am to work in a professional band. We have had some pretty bad experiences over the years, but lucky enough not too many. Bad sound is bad news for everyone. Festivals get one go once a year, so they need to trust the sound crew. The audience usually pays a ticket price for the event, so they are entitled to a professional sound. Even in a free event, many people might have traveled a long distance to an event they have been waiting for a full year. But also us as artists, when we are on tour, we only get one chance with our audience, and we as a band are only as good as our last show.

So what do we do? Over the years we have learned to work with what we got. Sliotar‘s sound checks are fast, normally no more than 30mins. We know what we need in our monitors and we can communicate this to the sound man clearly and in a calm manner. But sometimes at festivals it happens that when you are the last band on the night, your soundcheck was six hours ago and there has been another four bands on before you, by the time you get up what you hear from your monitors has nothing to do with what you heard in the sound check. Again, the crucial things we try to communicate from the stage, but in these cases we have learned to work with the bare minimum sound. For us the sound out front is the most important thing. What we hear comes next. These occasions we have a saying: “Keep your head down and get on with it”. Just because something is going wrong for us, we will not let this ruin the show for the audience. We are there for the audience. If they will not come, we have no show. We as musicians need to check our egos at the door, be humble about the fact that people enjoy our music enough that they make the effort to come to the show and never ever take this for granted.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download

Traditional Irish music and pineapples

photo 4 (3)For the past few days I got to play some trad sessions with good friends of mine. I wrote a blog post about the Irish Music Sessions in Temple Bar, where I live. Check it out and you know how strongly I feel about this subject. We decided to take things one step further yesterday 😉 Before our session we wen’t around the pubs in the area and handed them pineapples, if they did not have traditional Irish session in the bar. And let me clarify that few musicians playing songs through sound system is not a session, it is a small concert, or a pub gig. You might wonder what is the connection with pineapple and Irish sessions? Well, that’s the thing, Nothing! Pineapple is very common fruit, but at the same time it does not grow in Ireland. The idea of us handing pineapples to pubs might seem surreal, but for us musicians who grew up surrounded by sessions, the thought of pubs in Temple Bar, the so called “Cultural quarter” of Dublin not having a session is about as surreal. Bring back Traditional Irish Sessions to the heart of capital city!

Traditional Irish Session in Temple Bar

file0001149776112So some of you here have come to know me as a singer songwriter, some of you might know me from Irish folk band Sliotar or some of you might know me from the punk band Boneyard Bastards. Some of you might not know me at all, just ended up on this website on one of your random wonders through the web. That’s fine 🙂 But let me give you little bit of background so the rest of this post will make some sort of sense.

I was born and grew up in Finland, got in to playing music around 10 years of age, but it became part of my everyday life around when I was 13. Got into rock, blues, hard rock, punk… always had a band on the go.

In 1994 I came to Dublin for a weeks holiday. I had little bit of an interest in Irish music before, but on that trip I got bitten by the bug. So I came back for a few months visit and learned as many tunes as possible. In 1996 I finally moved over and lost my self in the world of Irish traditional music. I spent a lot of time to learn and understand the music and I would even go as far as to say I am quite good at backing Irish traditional music on guitar. But that’s enough of that, now let’s get to the real point.

file7271346293123When I first came in to Dublin, Temple Bar was a busy area. Not much have change on that account. Tourists around the world walk the cobblestone paved streets of this so called “cultural quarter” of Dublin. When I came here, that was very much the case, there were several art galleries, some of them still survive. Most bars in the area had a traditional session at least some days of the week. There were Jazz club, Folk club and even a great underground rock venue. Since then obviously the area has become much more commercial. Price of beer has gone through the roof, came down a bit and seems to be on the rise again. Buskers on the streets went from acoustic guitars to a full blown bands with sound systems. Times change, and I do understand that. But one thing that has changed in the past five years in Temple Bar, is the Traditional Irish Session. Slowly the sessions got a microphone hung over them to expand the sound all around the pub (also loud music give us less opportunities to talk and we end up drinking more. Something the publicans like to see). Then came new sound systems and all the instruments were miced up individually and the volume went up a notch again. The publicans started to favor more songs. So the balance went from sets of tunes to a song, to half and half. Now, we are lucky to hear one set of tunes after two songs. Also it was not unusual to have table full of musicians playing, sharing, swapping tunes. In other words keeping the tradition alive. Now don’t you worry, that tradition has not gone and died on us. Just because things have changed in Temple Bar, does not mean the rest of the country has given up on traditional session. But I get asked all the time, where there is a good session in Temple Bar… So now tourists flog in to pubs in hopes of hearing traditional Irish session, what do they get? Two guys on guitars singing Oasis…

file0001875234055But who am I to criticize the state of the Irish music in the capital city? After all I am just a Fin 😉 So should I just keep my mouth shut? Sorry, can not do! During the Temple Bar Trad fest 2014, there was no sessions organized by the festival it self. There were not even a place allocated for it. But bunch of musicians got together on a Sunday morning to play some tunes in memory of a fellow musician we had lost few years back. The pub was filled up pretty fast, and even without the sound system. So few of us decided to try few more sessions building up to the St. Patrick’s day. Just to do our bit.

But what I would really like to see, is those sessions returning to the pubs in Temple Bar for tourists to see and hear what the real Irish Traditional Music really is. See it live and living right under their own eyes. Also these sessions of late 1990s and early 2000 where were I got to learn my craft, by playing beside some great musicians. Also there was always a session to join on a night off. The music and the tradition was alive in Temple Bar.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download