In a build-up to the Pigfoot appearance at new Sligo comedy and music festival The Bright Side of Life the action began for me at the tongue twisting bar restaurant Shenanigans.

There comedian Christian Talbot was previewing his wry ‘Shite at Being Irish’ show, a mild and gentle run through some carefully crafted “anti-craic” jokes, the audience participation element not especially cruel featuring a quiz with a volunteer plucky enough to indulge Talbot’s penchant for a little light Cork-centric and socially conscious banter. Talbot teased out a few belly laughs from some of the demurely Guinness-sipping punters encouraging him on.

Over at the McGarrigles pub on O’Connell Street the bar staff trying not to be too frazzled by an electrical fault that had plunged the bar into darkness for a little too long the programme resumed with lit-up Galway-born Aindrias de Staic’s The Man From Moogaga providing zany and imaginative machine-gun delivery and yes ingenious fiddling.

More violin at the Hawkswell with multi-talented Nick Pynn perched among a battery of instruments on stage joined by keyboardist/percussionist Kate Daisy Grant, Pynn’s homemade ‘cocolele’ stealing the show the Allman Brothers’ ‘Jessica’ just about reclaimed from J*remy Cl*rkson and co.

Over on O’Connell St later this time at literary pub Hargadons, where during Yeats’ 150th celebrations this year a Yeats poem is read each day and the walls are decorated with the photos of great writers often to be depicted holding pints of the black stuff smiling a little sheepishly, Sligo Jazz Project director bassist Eddie Lee joined by the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra’s saxophonist/clarinettist Ciaran Wilde, Brian Priestley on keyboards, impressive classic jazz singer Sinéad Conway and drummer Ken “Tonto” McDonald tucked away, for a trip down memory lane with ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’ and ‘God Bless the Child’ some of the highlights of a swinging set.

Over at 5th on Teeling Abandoman thrived on audience participation but there was a delayed start to main jazz draw Pigfoot until the comedy rapper’s often hilarious routine was over and the youthful audience dragged themselves over to the adjacent room, so the London band didn’t go on until well after midnight. It was worth waiting that bit longer for the four-piece who were kicking off the festival club programme at The Bright Side with a riotous mix of traditional jazz, even a little Wilson Pickett and in a shift, not as bizarrely as it might sound, opera. Tuba player Oren Marshall powered the band from the depths as Loose Tubes trumpeter Chris Batchelor led from the front displaying aggressive technique and a pure tone. Drummer Paul Clarvis keeps immaculate time and was very responsive towards the twists and turns of the antique material but steered the audience’s ear fodder remorselessly in new directions to keep things simmering along.

Pigfoot likes to “desecrate” a wide range of material and it’s an interesting spectacle to observe: Liam Noble, whose new solo piano album A Room Somewhere is about to be released by Basho, playfully pummelling the upright piano as he tinkered with the chordal intricacies of a spread of material. Highlights for me were the treatments of Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug Waltz’ and ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee,’ while ‘March of the Toreadors’ was a cheeky diversion wading not at all gingerly into the world of Carmen. Against the odds this somehow worked.

A surprise unannounced addition to the late-night programme was the welcome appearance of singer Lauren Kinsella who unleashed a no-holds-barred free improv set, Kinsella’s vocal acrobatics underpinned by her troupe’s brassy trombone and saxophone bravura, drummer Simon Roth rattling the rhythmic structure of the material to within an inch of its life as the set went ever wilder.

Stephen Graham

Chris Batchelor and Paul Clarvis of Pigfoot top at 5th on Teeling; with Sinéad Conway, Eddie Lee, Ken ‘Tonto’ McDonald, and Brian Priestley above in Hargadons

Photos: Lieve Boussauw