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The Job of Songs – Watch the trailer for the new Irish Music documentary

Kieran O’Connell (left) drums on the bodhran and Adam Shapiro (right) plays the fiddle 
Photo Credit: Anika Kan Grevstad

Central City Media has announced that the Irish Music documentary The Job of Songs will be available on digital download from 25th September. The film was awarded “Best International Documentary” at Galway Film Fleadh (2022).

The Job of Songs is produced by Lila Schmitz, Fengyi Xu, and Anika Kan Grevstad. It is an intimate film about the musicians of County Clare. Tourists flock to the west coast of Ireland to take in the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, but the real treasure lies in the soulful, acoustic sounds wafting out of pubs and living rooms of the unspoiled coastal village of Doolin. Travelers from around the world gather in the local pubs to hear the traditional Irish music, which threads through the generations creating community, connection, and joy. But things are changing: facing rapid modernization at the hands of tourism, confronting depression and mental health issues, and grappling with a history of colonization and oppression, the people of Doolin turn to music to find solace.

Christy Barry shares the rich history of place and music, while lamenting the changes that tourism so quickly brings to this idyllic village. Luka Bloom seeks a legacy, while passing his adoration of music on to his sister Anne Rynne and friend Kieran O’Connell. Christy McNamara captures the area’s history in photographs, while passing on the musical tradition to the next generation. Katie Theasby longs to vitalize her music yet struggles with self-doubt, single motherhood, and depression. Each of them grapples with their own demons: fighting their fears of putting themselves out there, coping with the changes that tourism has brought to their community, and dreaming of writing the next ballad that will fill the pubs for hundreds of years.

Director Lila Schmitz had this to say about the film.

The Job of Songs was born of a feeling. When I travelled to Ireland for the first timne, chasing my ancestral roots, I stepped into a session in Doolin, County Clare and the feeling overwhelmed me. I could not describe it in words, yet there was something so important and gripping in those moments spent in the pub. The community. The history. The music. It did not leave me. I wanted to capture this feeling the best way I know how – and so this film came into being.

We spent time in County Clare getting to know the musicians and music lovers of the area, hearing stories and forging relationships. We were so fortunate to earn people’s trust and time and spent four weeks exchanging stories and tunes with the vibrant community.

My grandmother says that the Irish keep everything inside, never burst, and then die. That’s how it was when she was being raised by Irish immigrants in Chicago, and that’s how it was when her parents were being raised in Kerry, Ireland: just don’t say anything. And so, music is a way for us to unleash our feelings so that we may express the unspoken.

Music has the power to bring people together. In an age where everything is speeding up in life and everything is instant, we’re missing the person that walks right in front of us. We’re lonely and we don’t know why. We’re depressed and we don’t see a solution. In this community of musicians, the artists explore what it means to exist in the old music, the long-standing tradition, and find community through the strumming of a guitar, beating of a bodhran, or sharing of a song.

The Job of Songs will be available on UK Digital Download from 25th September.

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