Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 afternoon roundup (part 1)

By on Thursday, 13th October 2016 at 3:00 pm

Funny how I wrote in my introduction to my coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 earlier that it’s the antithesis of SXSW, because how my first HWCH started was in a way that makes SXSW convenient for music journalists. ‘HWCH in the City’ is daytime programming that occurs in bars, cafes, tattoo parlours and shops around Dublin city centre. It’s entirely free, like SXSW’s daytime shows, and these appearances offer the opportunity to catch bands that you might miss due to evening showcase clashes. However, I’d say HWCH definitely chooses better, more unusual venues with charm, often of the Irish variety. While some of the bands I encountered along the way Thursday afternoon thought I was mental for covering this many bands, Carrie and I can tell you that you’re freshest on the first day of a festival, so you might as well strike while the iron’s hot!

Maria Kelly (Dublin) @ Winding Stair Bookshop

Maria Kelly HWCH 2016

My first act of the day on Thursday was, fortuitously, just steps away from my accommodation, making my appearance here a no-brainer. The Irish’s well-known love for craic is probably only rivalled by their consumption of books and their keenness for reading, and there are bookshops all over Dublin. The Winding Stair, across from the famous Ha’penny bridge, provided an adorable backdrop to the music of Maria Kelly. The raven-haired, doe-eyed guitar player has a voice of a songbird, with the kind of preciousness you associate with china dolls on a song of hers like ‘Pretend’. A softer, less subversive Daughter, if you will. The 405 recently premiered her new video ‘Stitches’, so I think we can expect her to make inroads into the UK with her soft-spoken, gentle style.

Eoin Dolan (Galway) @ Irish Design Shop

Eoin Dolan HWCH 2016

It was then over the river, through Temple Bar and down Drury Street for a visit to a cutesy little shop. Disappointedly, the Irish Design Shop was not awash with claddagh rings and Celtic crosses as I erroneously predicted but instead plenty of artwork and crafts made by Irish artists. Wearing a flat cap that made him look more like a Yorkshireman than a Irishman and less likely to sing the songs he did, the shop proved to be an ideal venue for the beardy Eoin Dolan and his thoughtful tunes. His sunglasses are a better indicator of his music: there’s a feel good, Beach Boys-ey, slightly lo-fi approach on songs like ‘Ocean Girl’, which I guess makes sense for a lad from Galway.

Whim (Portland / Galway) @ Urban Picnic

Whim HWCH 2016

For a young musician, Sarah DiMuzio (stage name Whim) is especially well-travelled, having spent time living in both Portland and in Ireland. There’s a tangible chilliness to the notes of her music, and not in a bad way but instead in a Fleet Foxes / country feel. You’re fully aware that she’s singing songs from her life and instead of it feeling like any other singer you’ve seen with a guitar before (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot who make me yawn), you want to pull up a chair and listen to these tales. DiMuzio’s sweet voice pulls you in, and now I’m wondering how quickly she will manage a tv advert song sync, because her voice is that good. Although she did not bring her beloved ukulele with her to Dublin, you can hear songs on her Bandcamp where you can it makes welcome appearances. She’ll be releasing her debut album soon on Galway label Citóg Records, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to that.

After her lovely performance, I had a brief chat with her about her music. I would highly recommend this laid-back place for reasonably priced, excellent food: I had probably the best risotto I’ve ever had in my life there (thank you Vinny for also finding my necklace!) before going on to my next gig.

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