Everything falls into right place for Junior Brother

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

At home in Kerry he’s just plain Ronan Kealy, but when it comes to making waves in the music business, Junior Brother has been a name at the forefront of alternative folk music in Ireland for half a decade. Bold and jarring, his style is characterised by experimental open guitar tunings and captivating, guttural vocals.

Ronan’s most recent project, Junior Brother’s Favourite, was a frenzied and meandering twenty-minute track that he described as a final chapter in the world conjured up by his previous three releases.

This Saturday, September 16, he plays Claregalway Castle’s Fall Right into Place festival. The bill for the rest of the day includes Pillow Queens, The Love Buzz, Elaine Malone and Autra Monde.

Ronan has played on every line-up the festival has produced in its three-year run and given his longstanding relationship with the Róisín Dubh and Strange Brew Records, he is a familiar face to Galway audiences.

“They do a really great job there,” he says of Fall Right into Place.

“It’s a beautiful set-up and the line-up is always great so I’m really looking forward to getting back there. I’ve been gigging in Galway since the very start. It means a lot to me and the Róisín Dubh is sort of a home away from home for me now at this stage.

“With Strange Brew as well, I’d be on their label so it’s very familiar. I played this festival the last two years so that’s a familiar setting too. It’s always nice to have an excuse to go to Galway.”

Junior Brother’s Favourite arrived in a hurry after a Covid-induced period of writer’s block for Ronan.

On occasion, a twenty-minute track can be in danger of becoming a self-indulgent exercise, but this piece is nothing of the sort. It is no real surprise that the writing process largely took place over the course of one day – the song is as exploratory as it is cohesive, and it feels as though considerations of form came after the bulk of the content.

Pictured: Junior Brother…playing at Claregalway Castle’s Fall Right into Place festival this weekend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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