Oh we do like to Session by the Seaside…

Posted: 29/04/2011 in Uncategorized

Sea Sessions Surf & Music Festival returns to the seaside town of Bundoran this summer from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June. Now in it’s fourth year, organisers have really upped the ante with the 2011 installment, announcing a diverse lineup of top musical acts from both home and abroad for the Donegal weekender. In alpahabetical order:

Bell X1 ∙ Bitches With Wolves ∙ Bona Fide Federation ∙ Box T ∙ Brian Deady ∙ Cashier No. 9 ∙ Charles Bradley ∙ Codes ∙ Fred ∙ Funeral Suits ∙ Gemma Hayes ∙ Grandmaster Flash ∙ Ham Sandwich ∙ Hat N Cara ∙ Indecision ∙ Ivan St John ∙ Japanese Popstars ∙ Kanyu Tree ∙ Leika ∙ Norman Jay ∙ O Emperor ∙ Riptide Movement ∙ Rooftop Anthem ∙ Royseven ∙ Storyfold ∙ Surf Chixxx ∙ The Danger Is ∙ The Delays ∙ The Go! Team ∙ The Minutes ∙ The Shoos ∙ Skatalites ∙ Villagers ∙ The Walls ∙ Windings ∙ Ziggy Marley ∙

Something for everyone, most definitely. Sea Sessions has become a staple in my festival calander since I first attended in 2009.  Back then it was a very simple festival setup, and the most basic of camping facilities by a GAA pitch – overall, reflective of the ticket price, really… So credit must be given to the organisers for building on the strong foundations and making the festival bigger and better each year, without hitching up the cost of tickets to match. Bundoran is a small town, so it tends to come to a standstill over Sea Sessions weekend as festival revellers take over – and the atmosphere is always brilliant. The fact that it’s right by the beach is a major bonus… And, not to jinx it, but the weather tends to be fantastic!

Bundoran is a great spot for surfing, so if you’re that way inclined it’s the perfect weekend to take to the water (it is a music AND surf festival, after all!) Not my area of expertise at all, but at last year’s Sea Sessions some of my friends availed of the facilites of Turf n’ Surf – where boards and wetsuits can be rented at very reasonable rates, and lessons are available if required. Best to book in advance though, as they’re bound to be busy… As will the waves, as this year’s festival is set to make surfing history when the annual ‘Surf Expression Session’ becomes the UK & Ireland’s first EVER Association of Surfing Professional specialty event! And surfing ain’t the only sporting action on offer at this year’s Sea Sessions, either… There’ll also be soccer, tag rugby, and ultimate frisbee on the beach all weekend. More of a spectator? Then crack a can and chill out by the Vert Area to watch the BMX, skateboard, and roller-blading action.

But back to the MUSIC! With such a fantastic lineup of top names on offer, it’s be easy to be drawn to the bigger acts – I personally cannot WAIT to see Ninja & The Go! Team get Bundoran dancing, be mesmerised as per usual by Conor O’Brien & Villagers, believe the post-SXSW hype surrounding Charles Bradley, hear the long-awaited new material from Gemma Hayes performed with a full band, rock out to Ham Sandwich through cascading confetti, and partake in the the inevitable mass sing-along that comes with a live Bell X1 set.

But festivals are all about discovering new music, too – so, here are three up-and-coming Irish acts who you might not be familiar with yet, but who are DEFINITELY worth pencilling into your busy Sea Sessions schedule:


The Danger Is, a.k.a Kildare songstress Niamh Farrell (not to be confused with the Ham Sandwich frontwoman of the same name!), has been garnering a lot of praise in recent months. She featured in 2011 ‘Ones to Watch’ lists accross the board, and justifiably so. I first saw Niamh perform at the Ruby Sessions in Doyles last December, and was totally blown away by the sheer beauty of her voice… I went straight home afterwards and bought her debut E.P (here) and have been hooked ever since. Check out this special performance of the super-catchy ‘All For Gold’ as captured in RTÉ Radio Studio 8 by Myles O’Reilly:


The Minutes make music that ROCKS. Simple as. Mark, Shane and Tom are very busy boys at the moment as they gear up for the release of debut album Marcata which will be unleashed on May 20th (you can pre-order it here). The band have just finished a nationwide tour with label-mates Fight Like Apes, rocking venues around the country – and I can’t wait to see them switch their high-octane live performances into festival mode. Check out most recent single ‘Black Keys’:


And now for something completely different! I have danced myself silly to Bitches With Wolves at both Electric Picnic and Oxegen in the past, but I’m delighted to see them appearing on the bill of some of the smaller festivals this summer. With killer dance-pop tunes like ‘Broken Hearts’ and ‘Good As Gold’ in their arsenal, Bitches With Wolves’ performances are always a lively affair – but behind all the glitz n’ glamour, the flawless vocal ability of ever-flamboyant front-man James O’Neill will command your attention. The band have been hard at work on new material, some of which was unveiled at their recent headling show at Whelan’s. Check out ‘Hurricane’, then pack your dancing shoes for Bundoran:

Weekend tickets for Sea Sessions 2010 are just €79.95, and can be bought directly from tickets.ie, ticketgroup.ie or from all HMV Stores Nationwide. Accomodation-wise, there’s plenty of self catering accomodation available in and around Bundoran, plus local hotels & guest houses – but you’d better get on it quick! For those who prefer the more authentic festival accomodation of camping, all weekend ticket holders are guarenteed a spot in the official festival campsite, which is great value at €20 for 4 nights.

So what are you waiting for? Get organising your Sea Sessions weekend in FUNdoran!

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