Stevie G: Check out rising Cork star Jena Keating at home town gig this weekend

The new wave of Cork talent emerging is very exciting, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: Check out rising Cork star Jena Keating at home town gig this weekend

Cork’s Jena Keating plays Winthrop Avenue on May 13.

There’s a new wave of young artists emerging in Ireland, and thankfully Cork has got some great representation. Jena Keating is one such young singer, and she plays a hometown show this Friday night in Winthrop Avenue, which is part of the Old Oak/Cyprus Avenue complex.

I’ve been watching Jena’s emergence from the start and she has released some wonderful singles in the last couple of years. ‘Pick Apart the Pennies’, ‘Alone’ and ‘It’ll Be Grand’ all received heavy airplay on my radio show, and last summer I asked her to perform at a big party I helped programme with the Good Room at Fitzgerald Park. Jena was one of the many highlights that day and it’s no surprise to see that she is now headlining her own shows here. Accompanied by TheeSpaceman and Gaptoof, it promises to be a fantastic night, and I spoke briefly to Jena earlier this week ahead of the show.

Jena’s music is hard to categorise, which is always a good thing. If it was the 90s you might call it trip hop, though these days it would probably be considered more alternative r&b. Defying categorisation is a good thing though, and there’s loads of different influences at work here.

I originally knew Jena through her creativity in front of the camera and she is a great model and actor too, which definitely adds to her presence on stage. Her writing and singing is very original and I’m excited to see where she takes everything these next few years.

It all started quite organically by posting a song on her Instagram story, and asking where she could record it. She met Cyril (TheeSpaceman) through this and she was off and running.

Jena Keating, a rising Cork star.
Jena Keating, a rising Cork star.

Cyril is one of many amazing young producers operating here at the moment and she is delighted to be joined by both him and another, Gaptoof, tomorrow night, describing them as “two gems to the core”.

You might remember my feature on Gaptoof and his amazing beat series, which flourished during the pandemic, offering many young beat makers the opportunity to showcase their skills. We are seeing the results of some of that creativity now across the music scene and there’s lots of producers and artists stepping up.

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Jena, who now lives in London, and she’s delighted to be returning for this show. “It definitely blows my mind at times how this all came from a bucket list adventure.”

Future plans are “plenty” and “I’ll be rounding my sound and exploring different avenues in the meantime and seeing where I land”.

Tomorrow night, that avenue is on Winthrop Street, and a chance for you to see a great young Cork singer at the start of her career.

This Saturday there’s also a big opportunity to see many of tomorrow’s artists on stage in Cork. There’s a Cork ETB youth showcase festival taking place in Fitzgerald Park and it’s a great opportunity for the public to check out some of the great young talent emerging in both city and county. There’s a huge representation of youth groups from all over the city, including Mahon, Knocknaheeny, Gurranabraher, Togher and Carrigaline, and there will be groups coming in from as far as Charleville and Mitchelstown too.

Some of these acts you might already know. The Kabin have been getting loads of publicity on both local and national level over the last few years and rappers like MC Tiny, Jamie the King and MC Sparky are now household names here. Another of their groups, Misneach, will also be performing on the day, and they have recently released three singles and music videos, celebrating empowerment. The Kabin crew were all part of the big Music Heals event at Black Market and they will have a big representation on Saturday.

Their neighbours at the Hut will also be there plus there will be a big crew representing Mahon and some of the other youth groups throughout the city and county. I’ve been busy working with groups in Mayfield, Greenmount, Togher and Ballyphehane and I can’t get over the talent around the place. Saturday is a free event and it’s a big opportunity for the various groups to come together and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and seeing the artists perform!

Cork’s new wave is ready and you are all welcome to come and check it out!

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