Hands up: I never expected to be writing this. When we started Banter back in July 2009 in the upstairs room of the Twisted Pepper in Dublin, I thought we’d get a few months out of it. Trevor O’Shea from Bodytonic Music wanted “talky stuff” so I came up with a few ideas for discussions and panels. Our first one was about Irish music radio featuring Paul McLoone from Today FM and The Golden Maverick from Power FM. I’d say we’d about 30 people in the room (please say hello if you were there) and we were off and running.
Since then, we’ve done 98 other Banters. The Twisted Pepper remains our spiritual home and Dublin HQ, but we’ve been invited to a ton of festivals and events up and down the country to do our thing. The Earagail Arts Festival was the first one outside the capital to take a leap of faith in Banter and we’ve had a blast in one way or another with every single event we’ve done.
There are many, many Banters which stand out in the memory: the one with Utah Saints on the Derry city walls when a lad dressed as a muskateer fired his gun with no warning, the one in the kitchen in Donegal where there was a Picasso on the wall, all the ones in Foxy John’s in Dingle as part of Other Voices, the one with Nile Rodgers in a packed Galway hotel function room where he slagged me and my questions off and got the crowd chanting along, the one with Paul Morley in a former bomb shelter in London (another Other Voices’ joint), the one with Angela Scanlon and Sonya Lennon talking about fashion and style in Kilkenny in front of a 99 per cent female audience, the one about sustainable farming in a room in the middle of the Burren packed with farmers, the one in Charles Fort in Kinsale with Philip King (which we stupidly didn’t record), the one in the Workman’s Club with Tony Fenton (which we also didn’t record). Yep, loads to remember.
And, of course, we fondly remember a whole rake of Banters in the Pepper, where we’ve done them upstairs, downstairs and especially in the main room. It’s where the Banter thing has been finessed and finetuned, this thing where we either get a bunch of people together to have a lively discussion about something or other or bring in someone for an informal, casual, no-holds-barred one-on-one interview.
It all happens in front of an audience who are there to be entertained, educated, amused, bemused, engaged and very occasionally provoked. There’s a school of thought out there amongst some folks that questions from the audience often bring down the tone of an event, but I have absolutely no truck with that notion. It’s the audience who often give a Banter event its energy and mojo with a well-placed question or observation. After all, without the audience, we’d just be talking to ourselves.
All of which brings us to Banter 100. It takes place on Wednesday January 28 at the Twisted Pepper in Dublin from 6.30pm. There will be three secions in all, plus some very special musical guests, who we’ll be announcing nearer the date.
From the Editor’s Office
We’ve held many Banter talks about media issues over the last five years so we’ve decided to go right to the top for this one. We’ve gathered together a number of editors from various national publications and news outlets to talk about what they do, the pressures and decisions they face and make on an average day, their views on the news management agenda and their opinions on the Irish media landscape.
The panel: Kevin O’Sullivan (editor, The Irish Times), Ian Kehoe (editor, Sunday Business Post), Des Gibson (editor, Irish Daily Star) and Kevin Bakhurst (RTE Managing Director News and Current Affairs and Deputy Director General)
Living for the City: Loving Dublin
Since September 2013, the Living for the City series has delved into many nooks and crannies of living, working and playing in Dublin in the 21st century, from transport, media and housing to food, immigration and creativity.
For Banter 100, we’ve invited Aisling Rogerson (The Fumbally Cafe), Lynn Daly (Dublin City Council events and tourism team) and John Mahon (The Locals) to come along to talk about what they think really makes Dublin tick and the things they believe can be done simply and quickly to improve the everyday life of the city.
An interview with Timo
Chances are if you’re a Dublin-based music fan, you’ve been to a couple of memorable shows over the last two decades promoted by the man called Timo. Under the U:mack banner (and Ultramack before that), Timo has been responsible for hundreds – maybe thousands – of events by bands, DJs and live electronic acts in the city, from Aphex Twin, Fugazi, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Battles, Autechre, Shellac, Caribou and Moderat to 100% Dynamite, Rocket from the Crypt, Konono No 1, Jello Biafra, The Ex, Atari Teenage Riot, Andy Weatherall, Plaid, Squarepusher and zillions more.
2015 marks U:mack’s 21st birthday so we thought it would be a good idea to kick off the year of Timo (#um21) with an interview with the man himself about his life and times. Trust us, you will not want to miss this.
Tickets for Banter 100 are now on sale (please note the event is now sold out). By the way, when we did Banter 50 back in May 2013, Trevor O’Shea, the geezer who set the whole thing in motion originally when he went looking for talky stuff, promised loads of cake when we hit 100. We’re going to hold him to that.