Glen Hansard to play Westport Arts Festival
One of Ireland’s finest songwriters and performers has been added to this year’s Westport Arts Festival Programme. Glen Hansard will play an intimate gig in Matt Molloy’s Yard Bar on October 11 from 8pm. While slightly outside the official festival dates of October 1-9, the performance is very much part of the event.
Hansard has been involved in many music-related projects, starting out as a busker on the streets of Dublin in his early years. His band, The Frames, have been a enduring force in the Irish music scene for over 20 years, releasing six studio albums and two live albums during their lifetime. Last year, they celebrated their 20th anniversary with a series of concerts. Earlier this year, the group also honoured the tenth anniversary of ‘For The Birds’ – a hugely popular album that marked a turning point in the rock band’s career as they wove folk themes and technical textures into their guitar-led music.
Another noteworthy music project brought Hansard together with fellow singer-songwriter, Czech musician, Marketa Irglová, to release two albums under the banner of The Swell Season.
The original Swell Season album came about after meeting Czech film director Jan Hrebejk in the Czech Republic. Hansard and Irglová collaborated and included two Interference musicians, Marja Tuhkanen (violin) and Bertrand Galen (cello) to record music for Hrebejk’s movie ‘Beauty in Trouble’ and decided to release the recordings as an album called The Swell Season.
A relatively short period of Hansard’s life has been involved in the film industry but with significant impact on his music career. He played a supporting acting/performing role in Roddy Doyle’s adapted book, ‘The Commitments’. Another project involving Marketa Irglová saw the duo elevated into the international stratosphere after winning an Oscar in 2008 for Falling Slowly; a song which created an intimate moment in John Carney’s celebrated film ‘Once’. The duo starred in the movie, an urban musical set in Dublin, and wrote and performed most of the music.
Since the Academy Award, Irglova and Hansard have been enjoying a raised profile in the United States, and have toured significantly in recent years, often joined by Hansard’s band mates from The Frames. The duo are now pursuing separate paths and touring in a solo capacity.
This summer, Hansard has been on tour with Eddie Vedder, formerly of Pearl Jam. Vedder is promoting his recent recording ‘Ukelele Songs’, in which Hansard’s vocals feature. The tour may prove a significant landmark in Hansard’s career, helping to copper-fasten his popularity with US gig-goers.
Westport has at least one link with Glen Hansard. Aughagower native Martina Niland produced the Oscar-winning ‘Once’. Westport Arts Festival decided to contact Hansard to see if he would be interested in performing in this year’s event to celebrate the fifth year since making the movie. It is a tribute to Glen Hansard’s down-to-earth nature that he agreed to perform in the intimate space of Matt Molloy’s Yard Bar. Although he is starting a solo European tour in September, Hansard had not planned to include an Irish date – until he heard about the Westport Arts Festival. The gig was added in, and it will now be the last performance of the tour; a homecoming in the West.
The festival is strongly supportive of creativity in music, and the organisers are delighted to be able to host Hansard’s performance, which will include new material from his forthcoming album as well as some older favourites – and no doubt a few stories and anecdotes. October 11 promises to be a simple celebration of song with an outstanding live performer.
Updates on this event and others are available at the official facebook page,
www.facebook.com/westportarts, and website, westportartsfestival.com. Tickets Glen Hansard’s performance will be available from the website from Friday, August 26.