Over the last few months, a new music night in Castlebar has made an excellent name for itself as a platform for singer-songwriters to showcase their talents to the world.
Bridge of Song takes place in Bridge St, Castlebar on the third Wednesday of every month and since its inception last October, has unearthed its fair share of musical gems in the Castlebar and wider Mayo area.
The music co-ordinator of the Castlebar College of Further Education, Eamonn Mulderrig started the events in coordination with Bridge St in order to provide a forum for students taking part in his course to play their own original music. He was also responding to a long-standing demand for a community music project in Castlebar.
Eamonn is also a member of the band Vickers Vimy and from touring the country with them, was able to gauge exactly the sort of atmosphere he would need to create in order for Bridge of Song to take off.
Nine months on and Bridge of Song now takes place once every month in Bridge Street and has consistently had a full attendance. The audience is divided into sections, with a certain part reserved for those who want to listen, creating an ambience similar to a movie theatre. Eamonn says that audiences have been respectful and very encouraging towards performers, many of who are performing new songs for the very first time.
The format of Bridge of Song has followed the same pattern since its inception. There is a main headline act that comes with a national reputation. Previous headline acts include the winner of the Best Emerging Artist at the RTE Radio 1 Folk Awards Emma Langford, internationally renowned singer-songwriter Mark Geary and Coda, one of Ireland’s most exciting trad-fusion bands.
There is usually a performance slot reserved for a ‘local legend’, who is well known in the region as a seasoned performers. Some previous Bridge of Song nights has seen John Hoban, Michele Antonio and Aidan Bolger take to the stage.
Finally, there are performance slots for upcoming singer-songwriters. Many of these performers have pursued further musical ventures after their experience performing at Bridge of Song.
Gráinne Fahy, a native of Westport and well-known musician in the Mayo region, performed at the inaugural Bridge of Song in October. She released a single ‘1 in 10’ in March and was recently announced as the support act for Emma Langford at Garbo’s next month. Paul Greenan performed at the January edition of the event and is due to release an EP this summer.
Eamonn says the nature of the project is to build a music community in Castlebar and have expanded outwards by linking up with local festivals, such as last weekends Love Lannagh festival. There will be a “best-of” style concert in the Linenhall this September to mark the one-year anniversary of the music nights.
The next Bridge of Song is due to take place this Wednesday night, June 19, from 8pm onwards in Bridge St. This is the ninth iteration of the event and the headline act is Billow Wood, with support from Conor Ward, Orla Casey and Rosa Kinsella.