Following a pair of haunting yet accomplished full-lengths, trad/Kraut/proggers The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock have finally completed the studio recording of Lockout, a large-scale historical piece centred around an eighteen-piece guitar orchestra in previous live excursions.
The piece tells the story of the 1913 Lockout, the struggle of Dublin workers against exploitative working conditions, led by Jim Larkin and James Connolly’s ITGWU union. At its height over 100,000 Dubliners endured food scarcity, with employers refusing to follow government recommendations for a fair compromise. They successfully broke the strike, starving employees back to work, and refusing to reinstate those whose jobs were taken by ‘scab’ labour.
On ‘Suffrage’, the band are joined by Katie Kim on vocals, marking the 2018 centenary of the women’s right to vote and telling the story of Constance Markievicz, the first British female MP, and the efforts of the Suffragette movement to fed starving workers and families in the kitchen of Liberty Hall, the iconic Irish union building.
Lockout, a work in four movements, strives, in the band’s words, “to reflect the anxiety and anger of then and now, and the cynicism and hope of these times of upheaval”. Streaming below: a live rendition of Movement I of Lockout below, released in 2015 after the piece’s live premiere in Dublin the previous year.
The band performs ‘Lockout’ on March 16th at the Pepper Canister Church. ‘Lockout’ also releases the same day via Japanese label Transduction Records.
Young Hearts Run Free have put together a small but beautifully-programmed festival taking place in a fortnight in Dublin city with an emphasis on the craft of music in all its forms.
The events will take place in Marsh’s Library, National Concert Hall, Bello Bar, Molloy & Dowling’s and other surprise locations from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th October.
Bill Drummond, Pat Collins, Donal Dineen, Jim Carroll, Sylvie Simmons and more will be talking about their favourite records and other things; there’s a musical surprise tour, music from Katie Kim, The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock, Adrian Crowley, Nimah McCormack and more; John Osborne performing John Peel’s Shed; Foil, Arms And Hog, Barry McCormack and DJ sets by James Byrne, Peter Twoomey, Daragh O’Halloran, me and more, while Aoife McElwain will be doing a Forkful brunch on the Sunday. Tickets for all events are available here and as ever, all proceeds go towards the Simon Community.
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock are a fine band who mix trad and rock in a way that is anything but dodgy and wholly contemporary. But for their latest project, the band have written a large-scale work to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout.
For Lockout, as it’s simply known, the band played with an electric guitar orchestra (citing composers such as Glenn Branca in their decision to do so) to add that necessary scale to the work.
Check out footage from a rehearsal of the first movement filmed in the now defunct Factory arts space on Barrow Street in January. Details of the first performance of it will be announced later in the year with an album to follow in 2015.
Music by The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock (Enda Bates, Allen Blighe, Liam Caffrey, Ronan Hayes, Brian O’Higgins) & Electric Guitar Orchestra (Marc Balbirnie, Eamon Brady, Niall Byrne, Bryan Dunphy, Michael Fleming, Mark Jordan, Shane Latimer, Hugh McCabe, Colin Morris).
Raja Nundlall – Camera/DoP Thom McDermott – Edit/Producer John Breslin – Director/Edit
John Cruise – Assistant Producer Turlough Kelly – Assistant Director Adam Clarke – Colour Grade
Richard O’Connor – Audio Capture Matt Hedigan – Wide Hand
Update: A few people have taken issue with my opinions below. Let me just stress this, I wrote this from my own view of why I felt trad was reinvigorated. I didn’t intend to make grand statements about trad music as a whole, I’m not a trad ‘expert’. The article title was intended to refer to my reasons (and to draw people in to reading it), i.e. five artists I wanted to shine some light on it their field to my audience and not some big statement designed to offend people who devote their lives to traditional music in Ireland.
Trad is as big a part of our heritage as it’s perceived that Aran jumpers, sheep, Guinness and leprechauns are. So it’s not surprising that the genre of music, in terms of a modern context, is often maligned as old-fogey music or music for pubs and rural areas. It’s understandable that trad will be disregarded by succeeding generations who hit upon their twenties who have grown up with it their whole lives in favour of a Skrillex drop or the more global R&B chart pop or something.
But there are movements afoot. Just as those who said the Irish language would die out were proven wrong by a reclamation of the language in the last 15 years by the very people who hated studying it in Irish schools (its neverending grammar and distinct lack of speaking the actual thing was the definition of no craic), so too, is Irish trad being reclaimed, being pulled back from the brink of its own folk obscurity and a lot of that work is being lead by a few individuals. Here are five reasons why Irish trad music is now very much modern music. Five reasons why Irish trad rocks in 2012…→
Ireland’s finest example of a modern trad band The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock will release their second album The Brutal Here and Now on April 13th. I featured their 2008 self-titled debut in my eMusic top 20 Irish albums of the last five years list last week. ‘The Brutal Here & Now’ is the first listen of new material in nearly four years and the song is a sprightly tune “in the style of the Irish jig”.
The album was produced by Stephen Shannon with the band’s Enda Bates (vocals, guitars, electronics). The rest of the band consists of Allen Blighe (vocals, guitar, banjo) / Donnchadh Hoey (vox, guitar) and Brian O’Higgins (drums). Look out for an album stream on Harmless Noise next week.