Festival Season : Cork X Southwest

Year four of the Skibbereen music festival was launched last night and with some style as Mick Flannery played to a couple of hundred invited guests at the Murphys Brewery on Leitrim Street,Cork.

Bonnie Prince Billy had already been announced as a headliner so my name was on a ticket no matter who else was going to be announced last night but the confirmation of Martha Wainwright was a very welcome addition indeed.

The nucleus of this steadily growing west Cork music gathering has always been Cork/Cork-based talent so it was reassuring to see John Spillane, The Frank and Walters, Mick Flannery and Neon Flea Circus (amongst others) also confirmed on the bill.

With pints of Murphys flowing and sausages on a stick disappearing at an astronomical rate, Mick Flannery took to the stage to play a short acoustic set for the small crowd.

The approach to the organisation and sustainment of this comparatively small but growing festival has been extremely impressive in my book keeping a homegrown (but talented) spine yet adding one or two big (and interesting) names every year. Bonnie Prince Billy has not played Cork in nearly ten years and Martha Wainwright's performance will be her only show in Ireland in 2010.

In some ways you could compare Cork X Southwest to an albums band, concentrating on honing their craft with the aim being to carve out a quality, long-lasting, steadily-improving career rather than aim for selling a million copies of their debut album and never return. Last Summer saw a bordering-on-silly number of festivals taking place in Ireland with a large number taking the million-selling album approach which is rarely successfull. Unsurprisingly, many of these festivals never made it on to the 2010 calendar. Cork X Southwest look like they will not be making the same mistake.