It's party season in Cork... and there are some new venues in town 

There's a great documentary showing, and some music spots that are worth checking out, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
It's party season in Cork... and there are some new venues in town 

Gemma Dunleavy features in documentary showing in Cork. Pic: Brian McEvoy

It's party season and there is a lot on at the moment, but before I get to some of the gigs and events let me first mention a great music documentary that is currently showing in The Gate in town. I had the good fortune to go and see the premiere of North Circular at the recent Cork Indie film Festival and it really is a terrific exploration of the history, music and streetscapes of North Circular Road in Dublin and its various landmarks.

It’s a multi-faceted story really, with music, art, and culture at its very core. Ultimately it’s about the people who make the area and the buildings and the history and the music so important.

The musical journey encompasses many of my favourites, including Gemma Dunleavy, and it really gets to the heart of the stretch of Dublin that ranges from the Phoenix Park to Dublin Port.

This is a documentary where music, history, culture, art, and people collide, and it is extra poignant in an era where gentrification and the cost of living crisis has sucked lots of the heart out of communities worldwide. The battle to save the legendary Dublin bar The Cobblestone is one of many different stories that run through the documentary.

There are parallels to many themes which we would have touched upon in articles here over the years, and in Cork we have faced many of the same challenges, particularly regarding our music spaces. Atmospherically shot in black in white, it’s a stunning piece of work by Luke McManus, and it’s well worth checking out.

One bar that has reopened in Cork is The Southern Star, and this adds to the reopening of both The Liberty and The Pav lately. All of these establishments may provide added entertainment options over Christmas and beyond, and The Southern Star has had a nice revamp, with the outside area in particular providing a potential extra option for some good music shows down the line. Ernest Horgan is a publican with a proven track record so this is more welcome news for Cork.

Down in Leap, there continues to be a very busy programme in Connolly’s, quite simply one of Ireland’s most iconic venues. Alongside Levis in Ballydehob and DeBarras in Clon, Connolly’s is one of those venues with a storied history and I’ve often written here about how it’s been revamped since the glory days of the ’90s under Paddy and Eileen.

The modern incarnation still features Eileen and her son Sam, and they’ve expanded it in recent years. The main venue continues to hold legendary shows and is pretty identical to when I first set foot in there as a teenager in the ’90s, though the Toby Hatchett sound system is even better in 2022.

The legendary gigs have continued and this week west cork drill artist JRilla will hope to continue to build on the huge momentum he’s developed in the last 12 months. A festival performance at Indiependence followed an appearance with one of his peers, Sello, at Longitide on the main stage, and it’s not bad for a guy who few people even in Dunmanway knew this time last year.

His online following is huge, and like many of Ireland’s best drillers, he gets far more plays than many of those who get lots more media coverage. The energetic youngster will be joined on the night by Goldie Bronson and yours truly.

Connolly’s has a big programme as always throughout December and artists as diverse as Mick Flannery and Fish Go Deep will be performing.

Finally for today, the Irish beatbox championships will take place in Dublin on December 27 at the Sound House. Judges Amaron, D-Low and Frosty will be on hand for the first time the championships are being organised in four years.

Beatboxing is one of the most important subcultures of hip-hop and it’s great to see the community representing for the modern generation. It’s always been a part of hip-hop and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the genre in 2023 it’s imperative that we give props to all of the elements involved. It’s probably not as mainstream as other elements, such as graf, DJing, breakdancing and of course rapping, but beatboxing has always been important, and in Ireland we have some great talent.

The next Doug E Fresh, Rahzel or Biz Markie might even be walking among us.

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