By Florrie McCarthy
Well, I suppose I’d better welcome everyone back to the start of a fresh academic year on behalf of the music community in UCC and give a normal, proper welcome to those who are only coming to UCC now. This is the music column of the Express. Here you will find updates on upcoming Irish artists, musings on the state of certain elements of music in society, interviews, album reviews, you name it – the scope is nice and wide, as long as it’s around music (you can, in fact, contribute yourself if you like, if you’re into writing as well: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org ). Actually, it’s my first time writing – but please don’t let that put you off. I like to think I know a thing or two about music and if you have any inclination towards a few good tunes, or you can hold a tune, or you have perfect pitch and are a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist. I am here to point you in the direction of your people. As if the trope of coming to college and finding outlets and opportunities to really dig into and grow your passion wasn’t already true enough, UCC and Cork City have more than enough places in which you can fall deep into the circles of people who share your interest, be it discussion or creation or anything in between, and just get lost in the music.
I couldn’t write this article starting with anything else but the UCC Music Society. This is the main epicentre for those of us who love to sit around all day vibing to their favourite tunes, talking rubbish about their top three albums or jamming new ideas, be it dodgy and flowering or effortless and inspired, or all of the above. Bands have been formed here. Lifelong friendships. Beautiful songs have been written. Mixing with others is without a doubt a brilliant way to transform your musical mindset, to open yourself up to a vast, multidimensional field of mixing perspectives. Here you can fall in love with new genres or meet culture nerds who know even more about your favourite artist than you do. The society organises many wonderful events for the members to make new friends and enjoy music with old ones. Although a lot of these were online last year I think we can look forward to seeing more in-person meets this year. The most iconic of these is definitely the battle of the bands and the singer-songwriter competition. The same concept but for different amounts of people, these events are great ways for those who like to make music to put themselves out there to the people of the society and take a stab at exposing their creations to other music people, perhaps gauging their own potential on audience reaction and the levels of success reached in the competitions. Not that it’s all about being the best musician or seeing if you’re ready to take it seriously, not at all – the baseline mentality of coming to the society should be all about the craic, and remembering the definition of the word: play – but it is whatever you want it to be and if you like, that can most easily be a pool of creativity, from which a wealth of fun adventures and life-changing music can come.
This is only one of the many events the society organises. Others range from collaborations with the foodie society to have culturally themed event nights to guitar lessons for those who keep meaning to start trying but never do. They also like to promote the members who do play with videos of covers submitted, so if you make covers you could easily submit one and get featured here. This is not unlike the trad music society’s social media page. Yes, there is also a whole society for Irish trad music, who have many events they organise themselves. Their Instagram page is a star-studded highlight reel of people with the fastest fingers in the West, East, North and South. For those who spent their childhoods in ceoltas, this is highly recommended.
But I can’t just talk about the opportunities that come straight out of UCC. For those just coming to Cork for the first time, you’d be pushed to find a richer, more down-to-earth scene for gigs and gigging musicians. Yes, the intimate, vulnerable, magical picture of a crowded room of music lovers hunched in toward a jazz combo or a singer with a guitar is one to which Cork is absolutely no stranger. Winthrop Avenue, Cyprus Avenue and the famous Kino, the latter having recently undergone a fairly monumental change, are the old greats of Cork, offering shelter to the sapling musician with three chords and the truth and any bit of moxy from the vicious, wanton storm of the outside world. There are others, more normal pubs, and one gets to know the best haunts after a while. But for those who’ll go to anything on the website www.corkgigs.com is very well maintained.
So enjoy. Whether you love to listen to music, write music, play it, it doesn’t matter. There is something for everyone.
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