I was hmmm-ing and hawww-ing about making a return to Brighton for The Great Escape next year. I’ve been for the past 4 years and it’s always a great weekend, but I’d been contemplating spending my money on a long-overdue trip to Glastonbury instead. However, I just got an email in my inbox that might change my mind.

In 2011, Ireland will be the ‘lead country partner’ of the festival, which means that there’ll be a lot more Irish bands playing at it (in previous years, there have been one or two amongst a hundred or more, although the past couple of years has seen that number rise, thanks to Music from Ireland showcases – but they’re held during the day). I’m delighted and also feel vindicated that other countries are finally starting to notice how good our scene currently is. OK, in the grand scheme of things, it might not be a huge deal – but playing at ‘SXSW-on-Sea’ might  help some of our acts kick open the doors that acts like Villagers have resolutely wedged their foot in.

Eugene Downes of Culture Ireland said: “More than ever before, Irish artists are defining Ireland’s global reputation as a leader in imagination and innovation.  Irish musicians and bands are great ambassadors for Creative Ireland at important international showcase events such as The Great Escape. We were pleased to welcome the TGE team at Hard Working Class Heroes last week, following which, we are delighted that Ireland has been chosen as the spotlight country for 2011. We look forward to working with the organisers and our partners at FMC through Music From Ireland to generate further opportunities for Irish bands to reach new audiences and markets.”


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