Only in its second year, Bundoran’s Sea Sessions sees the sunny seaside town buzzing with excitement at the influx of festival goers: even the local merchants are super-friendly. Small festivals, by their very nature, offer a greater sense of intimacy, communion and one-ness between punter, staff and performer alike and this is definitely true of Sea Sessions: the atmosphere is notably laid-back and the festival crowd is a mix of city dwellers, who take every opportunity to hit the countryside, and hordes of locals coming down to see what the buzz is all about, making for a visually intriguing sight as State wanders through the various tents and food stalls.
Having procured the first of many frosty beers, team State head to the main stage to check out a blistering set from Sligo’s finest; Tucan, who storm through tracks from their very recently released debut album, Aliquot Strings.
‘The album debuted at number 30, which we guess isn’t too bad for an instrumental band,’ Donal and Pearse tell State after their set. It’s not too shabby at all, but their blend of Spanish guitar and rock has been gestating for a decade, but it was only three years ago that they began to play under to Tucan moniker: ‘for most of that time we have been trying to get the album together. We funded it ourselves so we just did it in instalments. We were lucky enough to impress Lance Hogan from Kila so we recorded in their studio and he produced the album. It’s a beautiful studio: it’s in one wing of an old country mansion, so that went really well.’
Next on the bill is David Kitt who ploughs through his set despite suffering from a cold, even shoehorning in some Michael Jackson covers, including -Blame It On The Boogie’ and -Don’t Stop -Til You Get Enough’, (sacrilegiously without a cowbell), alongside tracks from his most recent release, The Nightsaver.
‘We played this festival last year too,’ Kitt tells State. ‘It’s nice to come back as it’s very laid-back and informal.’
Kitt and his band aren’t exactly overdoing it on the festival circuit this year, but not through any fault of their own: ‘I think the big promoters and the radio stations here are really guilty of not supporting home-grown talent. Unless it’s on a major label or has a big UK following, there’s no support. We don’t get any daytime radio play, we get more exposure on late night niche radio shows.’
Kitt remains busy, however, and is currently working on a collaboration with Tindersticks, as well as continuing to experiment on the Spilly Walker material with his brother Robbie. ‘Sometimes it’s hard to make ends meet being a full-time musician but it’s not hard on a creative level,’ he notes. ‘I have a lot more enthusiasm for it and I’m really enjoying writing and performing.’
Can Kitt confirm or deny rumours that his next album will be a rap album?
‘Well I have about eight records in my head at any one time, so they are all fighting for my attention,’ he laughs. ‘I own a lot of hip-hop and I feel like I understand it well at this stage. I’m finally getting the hang of making certain sounds that I’ve been trying to make for maybe nine or ten years, but it’s going to take a bit of time to get it right, so I wouldn’t say it will be my next record but maybe in three records’ time!’
In what turns out to be a fortunate turn of events for the evening’s proceedings Donal Dineen is running late and his and Zion Train’s slots are switched. Zion Train really get the crowd going with their bass-heavy reggae and set the perfect tone for Dineen, who packs out the tent as the sun is setting and whips the masses into a frenzy, before Kila take to the stage a little later than scheduled and play long into the small hours, much to everyone’s delight, despite having an early start for a jaunt to England and another gig. And so Day 1 of Sea Sessions comes to a close some-time in the early hours of day two. Time for sleep’¦
Photos by Claire Weir.