Does Irish music even need Arthur's Day? Long before the Diageo marketing event for Guinness began, a small, hard-working little Dublin festival was quietly creating the infrastructure for Ireland's outstanding live music scene.
This weekend will be the 11th year of the Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH) festival, an event genuinely motivated by heart, enterprise, and imagination. HWCH is a chance for music fans to catch 100 Irish music acts, including 70 brand new artists, in a range of excellent Dublin venues. But there's much more to event than simply watching a few bands: this is the key musical showcase in Ireland.
Angela Dorgan, HWCH festival director, explains: "Mingling among the punters will be scouts from a range of record companies. It is hugely important for audiences to support Irish musicians on their home turf in front of international bookers; HWCW is a big part of the process that elevates local acts to the international stage."
Free stuff: HWCH & The City
A key part of the festival, HWCH & The City, includes 35 bands playing free daytime gigs in a range of venues around the city, including markets, coffee shops, hostels, tattoo parlours, bookshops, and restaurants.
HWCH is growing: this year, the largest ever HWCH Convention includes three days of talks, panels, workshops, conventions, duets, solos, and sessions for any musician or band affiliate who wants to learn more about the business of being in a band (National Digital Research Centre, Crane Lane, Dublin 8). This includes how to put together a good bio for your band (given by music industry experts Jenny Headen and Steve Reddy) speed dating style sessions for bands to meet agents and bookers, and the practicalities, including a one-hour guide to sound engineering.
Meanwhile, HWCH Digital will, for the first time at the festival, offer support and advice to tech companies working in and around the music sector.
Three day passes to HWCH are €45, while day passes cost €20. Box office in Filmbase, Curved St, Temple Bar from 3rd October until 5th October
WholeWorldBand Stage @ The Workman's Club, 45Sound Stage @ Button Factory, Deezer Stage @ The Mercantile, Vevo Stage @ Meeting House Square, Twisted Pepper, Bad Bob's, and The New Theatre.
Some of the biggest names in contemporary Irish music have passed through previous HWCH festivals, including:
We Cut Corners
... and two-time Mercury prize nominees Villagers.
Primarily, HWCW is a showcase for new talent. Most of the acts are so fresh and new that they don't have videos, but here is just a tiny taste of the talent at this year's festival (no, I didn't have time to listen to all 100 acts, and I'm sorry that I didn't include your favourite band, but it's nothing personal. I'm looking forward to having my tiny socks blown off by your recommendations).
I'm Your Vinyl
Come On Live Long
HWCH is run by First Music Contact (FMC), an excellent not-for-profit organisation that provides advice, mentoring and clinics - free of charge - to musicians and the independent music sector in Ireland. FMC are also behind breakingtunes.com, a music portal for thousands of Irish acts and a chance for people to discover new sounds and bands.
Say you saw them when. This weekend in Dublin. See the full programme at www.hwch.net
Follow Peter McGuire on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PeteMcG_Dublin