Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

Flew into Bordeaux kl.23 from Copenhagen - Drove through the night down to Castelnaubry - slept in a field, early morning coffee in Monpoix then off to Bel Repayre the Mecca for Airstream freaks in Europe. Bel Repayre is a retro camping just for Airstream caravans, old caravans and tents run by Perry & Elaine. Up a mountain near Manse, very hard to find.

From there we drove off the next day up to Tocane. The weather was very very warm, 31-37°. We camped at Tocane’s Camping municipale. Very cheap, only 43 euros for 2 people, tent & car for five nights. New clean toilets (you take your own toilet papper), showers with hot water included. During the day it’s just to chill in the shade, swim in the river, sleep or as we did take day trips in the car (air conditioning) to see the cave paintings or visit one of the numerous medieval towns.

Great sessions every evening starting around 21.30. We were tired because of the heat during the day so went back to the tent at kl 2 in the morning. Sessions went on to 4 or 6 in the morning. Met some great musicians there. A very high standard of musicianship prevailed. The French musicians playing Irish trad in the sessions here at Tocane are playing as well as musicians in Ireland. This festival is nearly 100% French/Brittany musicians with a handful of Irish musicans from Dublin (the Banks clan), and the Irish workshop tutors. We were the only musicians present from Skandinavia.

We were lucky to be in a fine session the second night with piper Marc Polier late of Ennis, playing his Williams set from 1982. What a piper! A brilliant musician. Together with Claude, a great fluteplayer and friend of Marcs. People were very friendly we found and we had some tunes on the camp site with a fine whistle player, Michel from Orleans. We ran into Geoff Gabby & Bijou Wooff. Geoff was playing the concertina & Gabby was on the whistle. There was a group made of folks from Paris & Brittany that apparantly meet up every year at Tocane. They played very well on the campsite and we listened to them playing outside at the Pelforth bar on our last night.

One night inside the Pelforth bar Muireann Banks’ band "Fanny Power" was playing so we wandered in and a session started up. Muireann’s mother was there on fiddle and she told us they had been coming to Tocane since 2000.

Well we shall definitely be going back next year. Good sessions, friendly people, great weather, lots to see. Recommended - 5 stars.

We didn’t see any of the concerts by the tutors or students as we were just interested in playing and daytripping.

Re: Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

Great! Thanks for posting this (and making us drool). Seems like Irish music is alive and well in Good Old France. Lots of high-caliber musicians there now. I am particularly impressed with flute players from Brittany. Something Jean-Michel Veillon can take credit for, methinks. (and Matt Molloy, goes without saying.)

Re: Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

I cannot agree more fully to the latter post. Thanks for this great travel report. How and where on this site will this festival be stored? I searched the events and links but could not find anything (but the "Recontre Music Irandaise" for some reason popped up). I´ll save a bookmark for my own housekeeping…

Re: Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

Aye, Jean-Michel Veillon, great flute player - here with the Vallely crew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Zx_VSOzfA

We met another fine flute player at Tocane, Claude with his Irish wife, Deirdre from Derry. Claude had a blackwood flute with pinned keys and a wild light brown headjoint held together with hose clamps. Very loud powerful tone. Claude had a wildness in his playing that was appealing, sort of a crazed Conal O’Grada. Heard him playing in another session though and he was toned down. Another brilliant musician. My first time in France so a revelation to discover so many fine musicians playing Irish trad with passion.

Re: Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

Thanks, Steamwilkes, for such a good report on a festival that I´ve heard described as the French version of Willie Week.
I was there 4 years ago and had a great time. I haven´t been able to go back since, unfortunately, as the dates don´t coincide with my holidays.
You have discovered a secret that is becoming less and less well kept; that the standard of Irish traditional music in France is very high. I have been to sessions in an area that would run from Bordeaux down to Toulouse and many of those sessions are just as good as some of the best you´ll hear in Ireland.

@ Fiddletramp, Rencontre Musicale Irlandaise is the actual name of the Tocane St. Apre Irish music festival. This year´s was the 20th.

Re: Tocane St Apres Irish Festival 2010

It certainly was a great week! I really do think there should be an alternative name for the Tocane festival as "recontremusicalesirlandaisesdetocane.fr" is not an easy one to find or remember for anyone without french as a first language and stops foreigners about finding out about the great week in Tocane. Maybe by calling it an ‘Irish music festival” may help.
We were so impressed by the standard of playing in the 2010 week and thought it was the best festival yet.
See you all next year - we are already booked.