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Do you have any plans yet for the June Bank Holiday weekend? If not, the answer lies right here.
Beginning on Friday, June 2nd and running until Sunday 4th the increasingly famous Victorian Quarter in Cork city will come alive with Soul. Soul music, soul food in a variety of venues and a very special show, ‘Soul Review’, which will bring you into the heart of Soul history up to the present day.
The Soul tradition began in the southern states of America particularly among the African American population. The music was emotional, the food eclectic in taste. This is what you will find around the MacCurtain St area on the bank holiday weekend.
A variety of artists will perform like well-known Cork ‘adoptee’, Karen Underwood. Her move to Cork is an interesting one and it all began with bacon and cabbage! In 1997 a friend from Cork invited her to dinner, produced the traditional Irish fare and put an Aretha Franklin CD on the player. It was then Karenrealised that her music had travelled across the Atlantic and that combined with a special Cork céadmílefáilte would change the course of her life. She moved here permanently.
Karen will perform at the festival’s premier event, “Soul Review Live at St Luke’s“ with other well-know Cork artists like Gemma Sugrue who was the soloist with Jenny Greene and the RTE Concert Orchestra’s performance of 90s dance classic at Electric Picnic, the 3 Arena and the 2fm ball. Other performing artists to look out for are Buck Taylor, Niall McCabe, Velvin Lamont, and Paul Dunlea& the Band. Acts headlining here will only perform at the show and not across the weekend. Tickets available at Uticket.ie and from various restaurants in the area. Doors open 7.30pm.
The venues for these performances are in the recently rejuvenated MacCurtain Street and surrounding areas, recently branded the Victorian Quarter. A quirky detail of this Quarter is that it has the highest number of people working on the upper floor levels of any city street (1,000 jobs), has 3,000 students in the vicinity’s schools and over 100 businesses. A buzzy vibe at its best!
But aside from the quirkiness, this area is characterized by an unusual and harmonious mix of architecture – from Victorian, early twentieth up to the present time. And so strolling through the streets you will get a sense of Cork both past and present.
The area consists of many independent traders with varying sizes of businesses. Several of these beingan unlikely mix of small independent traders, big hotels, fine cafes/restaurants and lively bars. And they have joined together under the umbrella term MacCurtain Street Traders to provide something special on the Food & Beverage front for the festival. Imagine a traditional fish ‘n chip shop serving you creole fish taco with chipotle sauce? Fancy a Louisiana style gumbo? Smothered Pork Chops with black-eyed peas and corn bread? A luxurious crimson cake synonymous with the American south or Mississippi Mud Pie?It doesn’t get more Southern than this and you don’t have to go to New Orleans to sample it!
Stephen Vaughan, a member of the organising committee explained it this way: “Soul food originated from slavery in the southern US where slaves were given only the cheapest of ingredients to prepare meals and literally has to put their “soul” into the dishes to create flavourful food. We’ll be using the weekend to show off some dishes and ingredients that Irish people may have only seen or heard about on American TV shows “
This year (the festival began in 2016) the organisers have deliberately kept to a schedule of evening events. Friday will focus on the ‘after work’ folk with early bird food. Saturday will see the benefits of a bank holiday audience while Sunday’s premier event is the Soul Review in St Like’s.
This festival is yet another event which is an important contributing factor to Cork’s growing reputation as a great venue for music, food and beverage. The city entered the 21st century with the growing reputation of a modern, accessible urban centre. This reputation was proven when the city was given the designation of European Capital of Culture back in 2005. Building on that accolade, the city has continued to actively develop support for culture in general. And the Victorian Quarter has continued this trend with its recent investment in hotel and hospitality sectors.
So come sample it all on June 2nd -4th. Bring your body into the city and your mind and Soul will be replenished! Hope to see you there. Personally, I wouldn’t miss it.