Is there life beyond Van? (167, June 2017)

We are delighted to bring Banter to Belfast in June for the start of a monthly residency at the Baltic bar at the impressive Bullit hotel in the heart of the city.

For Banter’s first outing at Bullitt, we’re looking at the sound of the city and asking just what is the current state of Belfast’s musical nation. Many people may still associate the city with past glories like Van Morrison, Good Vibrations and SugarSweet, but the city’s musical machinations move to a much different beat in 2017 as seen by the excellent AVA festival which takes place in early June.

Banter host and producer Jim Carroll will be joined by Sarah McBriar (director and creative producer of the AVA Festival), Jonny Carberry (resident DJ and music creator at Bullit) and Stuart Bailie (music journalist and co-presenter of Across the Line) to discuss what the future sound of Belfast will be, should be and could be.

The first Banter at Baltic at Bullitt Belfast takes places on Wednesday June 7 at 6.30pm. Admission is £5 and tickets can be booked by emailing

The wrap is not talking about hurling today

A list of things for your reading, watching and listening pleasure. Updated every week.

(1) If you were one of those who thrilled to Jlin’s superb 2015 debut album “Dark Energy”, you’ll want to be all over her new one “Black Origami”. One of the albums of the season – a fine piece by Hua Hsa on artist and record here

(2) Fashion department: from Asos to Boohoo, inside the world of fast fashion. Not included in sale: a day in the life of Stephanie Shepherd, Kim Kardashian’s wingwoman

(3) It’s Monday which means back to work for the majority of the population, but here’s some pushback on the idea of cool open spaces: why cool offices don’t always make for a happier workforce and inside the offices where everyone is a DJ. On the other hand, you could be looking with envy at the new Apple campus. Meanwhile, for anyone hunkering to quit the office, here’s a great long read on the present and future of the gig economy.

(4) You’ll find my radio essay on the history of the Rough Trade record label for RTE Radio One’s Arena here. That includes a mention for The Strokes and there’s an excellent oral history of the band here.

(5) Is there a doctor in the house? Five medical procedures that are no longer performed

(6) Speaking of oral histories, a superb piece of work on the Game Day episode from the first series of The Wire.

Banter Shorts & Virgin Media (163, May 2017)

As part of their Full Stream initiative, Virgin Media will be screening three top class cult films from their catalogue at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin on Saturday May 13.

It’s a chance for folks to experience Back to the Future, The Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction in luxe surroundings with bold cinematic sound and a custom-built screen and lighting rig

Before each screening, we’ll be hosting a Banter Short coversation about various entertainment related topics

(1) We’re all cults now (before Back to the Future, 1pm)

Believe it or not, there’s now an audience out there for the strangest of shows thanks to out always-on consumption culture. We talk to Valerie Loftus from The Daily Edge about how the weirdest and most off the walls shows now build and develop their fanbases

(2) TV is the new film (before The Big Lebowski, 4.15pm)

The creator of hit show Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, Stefanie Preissner, and director of programming at TV3, Bill Malone, talk about how the new crop of writers, directors and makers want to work in TV rather than hawk their work to Hollywood

(3) A new world of entertainment awaits (before Pulp Fiction, 7.30pm)

What is coming down the tracks and into your gaff in the next few years? A conversation with TV3 Head of AFP Patrick Kinsella about how new technology, from VR headsets to new ways of packaging entertainment, is going to change your viewing experience

Admission is free but tickets must be booked in advance and are available here

Banter at Litfest 2017 (164, May 2017)

It’s the three in a row for Banter at the Ballymaloe LitFest of Food & Wine. As we did in 2015 and 2016, we take up position in the garden tent at Ballymaloe on May 20 and 21 and bring along some colourful characters and interesting folks for you to meet.

 What’s on the Chef’s Table? (noon, Saturday May 20)

Brian McGinn, the director and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated and award-winning Netflix show Chef’s Table, on how to produce a food show for the ages.

Food for good (noon, Sunday May 21)

Michelle Darmody and Ellie Kisyombe from Our Table’s guide to how a food business can make real social and economic change.

Our friend from Lithuania (3pm, Sunday May 21)

A conversation with Lithuania’s European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis about Europe, Lithuania, heart surgery, the post-Soviet age, food, Brexit, the future and why Nigel Farage is a numptie.

An bhfuil cead agam dul to dtí Phil Collins?

It may well be the most innovative move ever to flog tickets for the Phil Collins’ show at the Aviva Stadium this summer. This is the show where they keep putting new acts on the bill, in addition to pushing ads every time you turn on the radio. Perhaps plugs as Gaeilge for the show, as aired the other night on Today FM, is what will work to shift those tickets?

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan Phil

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan Phil

The problem for Collins at this stage is that the Neil Diamond factor has now kicked in. Even when you hear something on the radio which is as much editorial as advertorial for an upcoming gig, you’re reminded that you’re hearing fecking ads for this morning, noon and night. While other shows on Collins’ “Not Dead Yet” have sold out (and a lot of the other shows, interestingly, are in indoor arenas), this one is still in play, hence the continuing promo and ads.

In 2017, punters are sussed enough to know that you don’t have ads for shows which are selling well. It’s only when there are a large bunch of tickets left on the Ticketmaster system that desperate measures kick in – and despite a raft of innovations and new technolgy turning the music business upside down, promoters always seem to plump for ramping up the ad buying campaign when the going gets tough.

There’s no need for ad campaigns when a gig sells right out of the gate like Guns N’Roses at Slane Castle or the Electric Picnic this summer, but it’s the ones which stick around like a bad smell like Collins which need that push. Same, strangely enough, with Arcade Fire at Malahide Castle: this is a 21,000 capacity show, yet the band who sold out the 40,000 capacity Marlay Park in 2014 are having problems shifting those tickets.

If there is an upside, it’s that the touts appear to have got burned. There are some relatively cheaper tickets available on Seatwave and Get Me In for Collins if you want to score a bargain. Then again, as has often been the case when shows of this ilk are slow to go, it’s probably not price as much as venue which is causing this one to be as slow as the M50 at rush hour. The punters have sat through too many outdoor summer shows in the pouring rain to really want to face that again.

Still, that promo as Gaeilege could be the way to go. I’m waiting for some cute promoter to spend a few quid on a few ads to appeal to the 122,515 Poles living in Ireland. The data from that would be fascinating to see. Any promoter want to give that one a go and tell us how they got on?