Immerse yourself in global music at the Songs for an Open Road festival



Offering an “in-depth look at the various hues of melodies and rhythms that permeate our planet”, the first Songs from an Open Road Festival seeks to “explore the sources and examine the influence of what is often referred to as ‘music’. World” at the three-day festival from November 17-20.

The brains of Irish music veterans Pat Neary and Pádraic Boran, Songs from an Open Road was dreamed up in 2016, inspired by the discussion of ‘movement’ as the theme for Galway 2020. The concept was developed with the help of Joe Boyd, American music producer and writer, who has worked with some of the biggest names in music including; Pink Floyd, REM, Fairpoint Convention and many more.

Intrigued by the concept of the evolution of music during times when migration was virtually non-existent, Neary and Boran hoped to highlight the similarity and difference in music from all corners of the globe.

“You can listen to a throat singer from Iceland and you can think, ‘where did that come from?’ and oddly enough you’ll see that there’s kind of a straight line through the Baltic States and it makes you think, ‘wow, were all those musicians moving along that line hundreds of years ago’ years ?

“In America, the banjo was originally an African instrument, and slavery brought people to America, they brought their own culture with them, and it turned into rock and roll. It’s not a big leap to see what happened, but it’s very interesting.” Neary said.

While the term “world music” can sometimes be a maligned genre – an “easy parenthesis” in which to place songs – Songs from an Open Road seeks to confront this way of thinking by explaining what “world music” really is. world”.

While attending the World Music Exhibition in 2019, Neary was introduced to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist Jessie Lloyd, whose music reflects her cultural background and the heavy prejudice her community faces in her country. of origin.

“She’s like a Christy Moore powerhouse and a fantastic folksinger. To me, her songs are universal, very simple songs from her upbringing,” Neary said.

With the festival reflecting a moving musical theme and encountering other artists and genres, Neary thought of Irishman by adoption, Steve Cooney, who was originally from Australia before moving to Ireland in the early 1980s.

“I then thought of Steve Cooney so I asked him if he would be interested and luckily he was. Coincidentally Steve was raised in the Aboriginal community in Australia and he actually knew the father of Jessie, but he never met Jessie, but they will meet at the festival,” Neary explained.

The relationship between Japanese musicians and Irish traditional music was also something that Neary and Boran wanted to explore, as Neary explained, “Japanese musicians who came to Ireland became integrated into Irish traditional music, that’s almost like there’s a subculture in between.”

What those who have seen violinist Mayo Yanachi, who has graced Galway pubs with her talent over the years, or Kanako O’Brien who Neary first heard in the city years ago, will know . A concert featuring both Kanako-based Japanese harpist Mareka Naito and Mayo and Clare takes place during the festival, with the trio accompanied by sean nós musicians and traditional Irish musicians, to highlight the integration between the two bands.

American-born, Indian-raised and London-based jazz musician Sarathy Korwar embarks on a world tour with her gig at the festival, the only Irish show on the tour. Korwar is making waves in the UK music scene, having been described as a “compelling artist” and being awarded “Contemporary Album of the Month” by The Guardian for My East is Your West.

Songs from an Open road runs from 17-20 November and features documentary films about cultural music from around the world, as well as interviews between former Irish Times music journalist and current RTÉ Brainstorm editor Jim Carroll and featuring musicians.

A full schedule of acts, venues and ticket information is available at

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