Eamonn McCann -

The Whole Tribe Sings top the bill at the Foyle Folk Fest this weekend.
The Whole Tribe Sings top the bill at the Foyle Folk Fest this weekend.

A cornucopia of class acts is set to ignite imaginations at the Foyle Folk Festival this weekend in the strangely underused space up against the Walls at the back of Café Soul.

Reformed folk-rock super-group The Whole Tribe Sings tops the bill on Saturday night. Dublin duo The Lost Brothers will bring proceedings to a close on Sunday.

Plus, there’s Malojian, the Bonnevilles, Our Krypton Son, The Henry Girls, The Ard Rí Band, and etc. Every one a gem, and that’s not just the hype.

The Whole Tribe Sings decamped to the US some years back and kicked up a considerable storm. But for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained (to me anyway), the storm subsided.

Now they’re back, with the original lineup - Decky McLaughlin, Paddy Nash, Dougal McPartland, Tomas MacSeain, Jonny Nutt and Wally himself. Wally says: “We sound better than we did back then.” This is just about credible. Paddy Nash says none of them has aged a week. That’s pushing it.

Non-stop gigging over a number of years has expanded The Lost Brothers’ fan-base, not just in Ireland but across the water, in Europe and in the US. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech have played Glastonbury and the Electric Picnic and, according to one US critic, “tore the place apart” at last year’s South by South West showcase in Houston. Leech found time to share vocals with Alex Turner on the Arctic Monkeys’ “Baby I’m Yours”.

They have a clutch of poetical songs full of ache and joy at the lows and highs of life, some of them odder than odd in their approach, presented with marvellous musicianship. Check out their album, “The Passing of the Night”.

Then there’s Lurgan’s slam-dunk punk-soul (yes, there is such a thing) outfit, Bonnevilles, or Malojian (Antrim singer-songwriter Stevie Scullion. I first heard him at Glasgowbury as a duo, Cat Malojian, still regularly listen to “Pettigoe”, “Parsnips and Carrots” etc., etc.), the deceptively sweet Henry Girls, anthemic Jor-El offspring Our Krypton Son and Technopeasant omni-fusion orchestra, The Ard Rí Band.

Bring you own booze. Or whatever gets you up.

The urgent need for a new Derry station is clear every day when a six-coach train arrives at Waterside. Outbound passengers crowd behind the barrier while disembarking passengers are let out through the gate at the side of the building. A member of staff then boards the train and locks the doors of three of the carriages. Then passengers are released from their “holding pen” and pack themselves into the three unlocked carriages.

In effect, these are two three-carriage trains hitched together. The reason is that the platform at Bellarena can only take three carriages. But since there is only one conductor on board, and he or she cannot move between the two trains once they are moving, there’s no way of ensuring that passengers for Bellarena occupy the appropriate part of the train. Consider the situation confronting Martin Melaugh of Into The West last Thursday afternoon. The crush of outgoing passengers wasn’t able go inside. So one of the put-upon staff had to sell tickets outside, right down the steps and on to the pavement.

This is West Clare “Are Ye Right There, Michael” stuff.

The solution is a second conductor between Coleraine and Derry. Translink say they cannot afford it. But Martin reckons that a five percent cut for the top five Translink earners would more than meet the cost.

But maybe that’s too obvious. And sure it’s only Derry anyway.

Ima9ine at the London Street Gallery ran only for a fortnight, a skimpy time for an event featuring 94 pieces by nine artists. But then, the venue opposite the cathedral is probably the most all-action space in town these days, open three months, 
125 artists, 3,000 visitors 
and counting.

Ima9ine featured recent work by arts and design graduates of the University of Ulster. The pieces were wide and varied in subject matter and likely audience. One or two of the rooms I looked into I looked away from again after the blink of an eye, which was probably terribly unfair. But sometimes you have to stake it all on a glance.

It took only an instant for attention to be seized by Una Doherty Roe’s “The Living Skins”, a series of 21 representations of “Moss”, “Hemp”, “Seeds”, “Sand”, “Leaf”, etc., three of them acrylic, four Collograph Prints, the others “Mixed Media”, which seems here to refer to using any material at hand to produce a suggestion of the substance and spirit of a thing or a person or a place. No, I haven’t a clue what Collography is either. You could nearly tell Ms. Doherty Roe is an Inishowen woman, from her earthy dark colours of ominous beauty, olive, dun, ochre, brown, particularly in four meditative pieces titled “Lichen 1, 2, 3 and 4” - which you could gaze at for long enough and find 
new layers.

The next show, CultureCraft, opens this Thursday, showing objects made by 37 designers which “can carry a community’s shared history and reflect a cultural perspective.” No doves, I hope.

The Greeks didn’t have separate words for art and craft. Both were tékʰnɛ - from which we have taken technical, technique etc. Eddie Mahon and myself, graduates of Fr. McGlinchey’s Ancient Greek class, are ever on alert for opportunities to explain these things.