Sense Of Place: Of Bards and Balladeers
Throughout the week, World Cafe travels to Dublin, Ireland — the first stop in a quarterly series called Sense of Place. We hope to give you an idea of the past and present of the city's local music scene and provide tips from musicians and music lovers for those hoping to visit this culturally rich town.
Acting as tour guide is Glen Hansard, the Academy Award-winning songwriter and singer for both The Frames and The Swell Season. Hot Press editor Niall Stokes, who helms the Irish equivalent of Rolling Stone, and musician Conor O'Brien of the band Villagers also provide local insight.
Yesterday's segment highlighted some of Ireland's up-and-coming bands, which cover genres from soul to electronica. Today, we explore the two types of music most tourists travel to Dublin for: singer-songwriter and traditional Irish music.
"Irish people have always used music to tell stories," Niall Stokes says. He explains that songs were often used as political tools and an alternative way to disseminate news in times of turmoil. Glen Hansard concurs, and points to the great tradition of bards and literary history prevalent in Ireland. Though the singer-songwriter genre in Ireland peaked two decades ago, Stokes says, musicians such as David Gray and Damien Rice have kept the tradition alive and well.
Traditional Irish music, on the other hand, has never wavered in either its popularity or its prominence in Ireland. If you're visiting the city and want to hear some for yourself, Stokes suggestions The Cobblestone, or The Brazen Head — a pub that, legend has it, dates back to the year 1189. Hansard suggests The Stag's Head and O'Donoghues. The latter, he says, is frequented by locals; there, traditional Dublin musicians can be found any night of the week. (To watch a video of Hansard and World Cafe host David Dye as they experience what this particular pub offers in both music and libations, click on the video to the left.)