WHEN Spats Colombo perform on the Stáitse na nGael (Irish Stage) at Swell Music & Arts Festival on Arranmore later this month it will very much be a homecoming.
The band has been together for several years now and the current line-up features no less than three Donegal natives – Not bad for a Connemara-based band.
Spats Colombo features Donegal’s own Caroline Ní Dhubhchoin from Falcarragh (vocals), Stephen Curran from Castlefinn (drums) and Letterkenny man Micheal Ó Ciaraidh (fiddle).
The band’s line-up is completed by founding member, Simon Noble from Oxford on vocals, Grainne Bleasdale (vocals) and Brendan Feeney on bass.
Micheal said: “We have a lot of different members of the group all from different schools of musical thought. Caroline brings a traditional Irish quality to the vocals while my background in classical violin playing is probably noticeable.
“Simon (who writes the music) has a diverse taste in music – from the likes of The Beatles to the Mamas & Papas and people can tell us that they can hear these influences in the close harmony, easy-listening nature of our songs. So – alternative Irish language music is probably a safe summary of our style!”
Jokingly known amongst referred to as the unofficial TG4 House Band by friends, as a lot of them work at the Irish language station, it is only fitting that Spats Colombo will be one of the highlights on this year’s Stáitse na nGael at Swell Festival which will be compered by RTE Raidio na Gaeltacht broadcaster Donall Mac Ruairí.
Micheal said: “Although our musical tastes differ, we definitely all share a common love of the Irish language and culture.
“There has been a real new energy and life to the Irish language in recent years so it’s great to be a part of that in some small way.
“There are also some amazing individuals and groups who are doing great things musically for the language. The likes of Muireann NicAmhlaoibh and IMLÉ.
“We were nominated for Banna na Bliana at this year’s Gradaim Nós in the Sugar Club in Dublin and I remember talking to a music reviewer on the night who complimented the performances as progressive musically…and that the music just happened to be in the Irish language.
“I thought that was really well put. And, I suppose because of our strong Donegal connection we’re particularly excited about playing Swell.
“We’ve only been able to do one tour of Donegal as a band, so it’s great to get back up there again to play for our friends and family.”
Spats Colombo are well experienced in getting festival crowds going having performed at most of the major festivals in Ireland. “We played the Pobal Gaeilge at Electric Picnic the last two years running and really enjoyed playing the Bulmers Tent at Body & Soul, as well.”
Meanwhile in his day job, Micheal will be going into his fourth year in the television business this September and with that is taking on some new roles including starting work on a brand new online platform for young adults launching soon on TG4.
“I can’t say too much about it yet, but the details will be publicised soon. It’s been a busy year between fronting the 10@10 schools campaign with Operation Transformation, Dancing With The Stars and working with Art Parkinson and Miriam O’Callaghan as ambassadors for Seachtain na Gaeilge earlier in the year. Outside of television and social media, I’m enjoying working on my radio show with Galway-based station Raidió na dTreabh.
“Check Spats Colombo out on Facebook and give us a like to follow our progress. We have links there to our Soundcloud and iTunes pages. I’m a bit of a Snapchat addict so anyone of a similar disposition can find me on @irishmike-carey or on Instagram: @_mickyc_.”
The Stáitse na nGael will also feature Moya Brennan, Clann Mhic Ruairi amongst others. Other highlights at this year’s Swell include Mundy, Mark Geary, Orchid Collective, The California Feetwarmers, The Emerald Armada and many more.
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