By Stephanie Meditz
“Craic,” an Irish slang term meaning a good, fun time, is exactly what Craic Fest brings to each of its events.
On April 28 at 7 p.m., Craic Fest will host a Craic Session as its annual spring festival at The Wolfhound in Astoria.
Craic Fest began in 2004 as an extension of Film Fleadh, an organization founded in 1999 by Terence Mulligan to showcase Irish cinema in New York City.
Since then, the festival has been renamed Craic Fest, and it spotlights the best of both Irish music and film.
Craic Fest has hosted many celebrities over its 22 years of operation, including Liam Neeson, Jim Sheridan and Cillian Murphy.
Craic Session will be a one-night music festival to spotlight Irish artists, and it is a smaller scale version of the larger festival.
“The initiative and the agenda for Craic Session is to get people out from Astoria and Long Island City,” Terence Mulligan, Craic Fest founder and director, said in a phone interview. “It’s not just an Irish cultural music fest. We’re reaching out to a diverse audience in Queens, and specifically in the Astoria area.”
Headlining the Craic Session will be Irish singers Loah and Aoife Scott.
Loah is an Irish-Sierra Leonean singer-songwriter whose music crosses genre boundaries with a mix of Afro-soul.
“She’s Irish, but she also crosses over to other music genres because of her act,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why we chose her…there’s a lot of Irish in Queens. But also it crosses over to people who like world music in general.”
Loah has toured in the U.S., Ireland, the United Kingdom and Sierra Leone.
Four years ago, she performed to a sold out show at Craic Fest at the Mercury Lounge.
“That’s actually one of the best shows we had, with Loah,” Mulligan said. “People still talk about her set from four years ago.”
Aoife Scott is an Irish folk singer-songwriter with soulful lyrics.
She uses her heritage as a form of self-expression, and she often sings about history, political topics and parts of the world she has visited.
“I sing songs that I think are important stories to tell, as any other folk singer would do,” she said in a Zoom interview.
She also tells stories in between songs to provide context.
Since she comes from a family of musicians, Scott was hesitant to write her own music until her early twenties.
“It took me a long time to get to become a performer and a musician. I kind of had told myself because of the weight of coming from such a musical family, that I was trying not to be in their business anymore at all. I wanted to go and do my own path,” she said.
She will perform a set at the Craic Session with her partner Andrew Meaney.
“It’s a bit of craic, a bit of madness,” Scott said. “My main aim is if I can make people laugh, make people cry by the end of my show, then I’ve done my job pretty well.”
Scott frequently visits New York – last month, she performed a show at the Irish Center in Long Island City, and she visits the U.S. roughly twice a year on tour.
Last year, she performed nearly 120 tour dates, only ten of which were in Ireland.
“Performing for me is the main reason why I’m a musician. I love performing, I love telling stories and I love singing songs and connecting with people,” she said. “During COVID…I really realized how much it is part of my identity to be able to be a performer, to be traveling to places and to be sharing Irish stories with everybody else.”
Scott will release her new album entitled “Selected” next month.
Craic Session was funded by the Cultural Immigrant Initiative and Councilmember Julie Won.
This is the second year that Craic Fest has received funding from this initiative.
“[Loah and Aoife Scott] are major headliners. They play at festivals all over the world,” Mulligan said. “We’re in a really fortunate position to showcase these two acts. Normally we wouldn’t be able to do that, because this grant gives us the opportunity to show two world class musical talents.”
The Craic Session will also include a surprise musical guest as the opening act.
“The opening act is a solo male performer who has a strong following on Instagram and he’s definitely going to be the next big thing out of Ireland. So people will be treated to an opening act who’s on the way up,” he said.
The Craic Session is a free event, but it requires RSVPs at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/craic-session-tickets-589926836047.
CraicFest will also host an LGBT film fest on June 15 at the New York Irish Center.