Longtime collaborators Ríoghnach Connolly and Alabaster dePlume will come together to perform a one-off show at Band on the Wall on 3 October.
Billed as a “cosmic coming together of friendship and devoted musical spirit”, the show will feature the pair duelling from opposite ends of the stage, out-glaring each other with gnarled humour and spiritual appreciation over the course of two unique sets.
Connolly, a singer and flautist and dePlume, a poet and saxophonist, have worked together on many projects – from “folk-hop and barrelhouse-pop” collective Honeyfeet to dePlume’s celebrated spiritual jazz album To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals vol.1. The pair share a creative language, while referencing distinct worlds; Connolly’s art is often wrapped up in her Irish roots, while dePlume is a Mancunian mystic, bringing life-affirming spoken word to music audiences, and vice-versa. In this one-off show those worlds will clash, revealing the heart of the matter. Something harder to describe than ‘genre’ or ‘style’. Something more human and born in kinship and love.
Gus Fairbairn, aka Alabaster DePlume, has a pocketful of phrases that he uses all the time whether he’s walking down the street or holding court with musicians and an audience. For a long time the Mancunian would tell anyone who’d listen that they were doing very well. More recently, it’s another phrase which has a similar effect and which belies his unwavering commitment to personal vulnerability and collective politics: “Don’t forget you’re precious” – a phrase he keeps coming back to in his 2022 double album Gold.
Gold was recorded at London’s Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) over two weeks. He invited a different set of musicians each day, playing the tunes to click so that DePlume, who also produced it, could cut the 17 hours of sessions together like a collage. As with all his sessions, he ensured that the musicians didn’t have enough time to rehearse the tunes, instead requiring them to tune into each other and to rely on each other to reach the end of a song. There was another rule: no listening back to sessions after recording.
“The method is part of the mission. It wasn’t like school. We had mayhem. We were having fun. That is the story and the process – and I want to live that way.”
Rioghnach Connolly is known for her incredible vocals with The Breath and Honeyfeet. The former provides a moon-lit meeting place for ethereal folk and swooning soul, while Honeyfeet melt down blues and pop, jazz and disco into a “righteous blast of working-class energy” (Clash Magazine). When Connolly’s not singing or playing flute with these bands, she’s tearing around festival stages and theatres, clubs and fields with a handful of other touring groups, bringing an irrepressible stage presence to whatever ensemble she finds herself within.
Both Connolly and Deplume are artists through and through, and both show themselves at their creative peak whilst in the midst of collaboration. We’re not exactly sure what to expect from this Band on the Wall gig, but we know it’s going to be something special.