The Liffey Banks Sessions Return

The Liffey Banks Sessions Return

After the high of presenting Triúr at the Abbey Theatre and before the high of presenting Andy Irvine at the Grand Social, the musician and promoter Conor Byrne spoke to The Journal of Music about his plans for the year ahead.

Following a hyper-active year in 2011, with a gig nearly every week from a significant group, individual or ensemble, the Liffey Banks Sessions are back next Tuesday, 28 February at the Grand Social, and back with a bang: none other than Andy Irvine is the opening act.

Conor Byrne is the guiding force behind the Liffey Banks Sessions, and one of the busiest promoters of traditional music in Ireland these past few years. Just coming down from the high of presenting Triúr at the Abbey Theatre, Byrne spoke to The Journal of Music about his plans for the year ahead. 

Is this your first time promoting an Andy Irvine gig?

This is my first time organising a gig for Andy, though we’ve known each other for quite a long time. It is a privilege for me that Andy has agreed to perform at the Liffey Banks Sessions. Like many others, I have great respect for the man and his music. I performed with him on a couple of occasions at other gigs, but this is my first time to work with him as promoter.

Are you going away from the weekly gig?

We had a great season of Liffey Banks Sessions last year. I have decided to cut back to just one a month for the time being. I want to have time to pursue other projects that I have in mind. 

What kind of feedback have you had from musicians about the Sessions?

The feedback from musicians has been very positive. ‘It’s good to have somewhere in Dublin to play again’ sort of thing. The city was lacking this for a long time. Musicians love to perform in front of an appreciative audience, and the feeling is mutual from them also. It satisfies me to see a sense of satisfaction from both the performer and the listener.

What’s your sense of the place the Liffey Banks Sessions have in the city’s music scene? 

I see this club as being all about the songs and the music. The way the room is set up [jazz club-style, with small tables set out in front of the stage and lit by candles] and the way we present each act: I see it as a place where an audience is able to enjoy discovering musical gems from various parts of Ireland and beyond, also where performers have the opportunity to try new material, and where new up and coming performers are given an opportunity to showcase their music in an intimate setting. Like the folk clubs of the sixties and seventies. I try to re-create that atmosphere as best I can. 

Will you continue to use the Grand Social as your only venue? 

There are many fine venues in Dublin now, and I would like to organize events in some of them if the opportunity arises. I’m in discussions with a few places at the moment.

What other acts have you got coming up or in mind? 

We have the young Dublin band, the Bonny Men performing on Thursday, 22 March, and we are planning ahead with the likes of Tim O’Brien, Kevin Burke, John McCusker, Heidi Talbot, Scullion and many more. 

A final word? 

I’d just like to say I’m very grateful to all the fine musicians and singers who have played in the Sessions to date. And to the audiences for their tremendous support. Also, to the Grand Social. And dare I say it, to The Journal of Music for its continuous help in highlighting live music events like this.

Published on 23 February 2012

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