Tradfest 2018 takes place this weekend, and to celebrate, Kay Sheehy presented a special edition of RTÉ Arena live from The House of Lords in the Bank of Ireland on College Green.

Watch The Dhol Foundation performing Makhana and Jindh Mahi:

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Kay spoke to its leader Johnny Kalsi who explained that a dhol is a (very loud) traditionally outdoor instrument from northern India dating back to the 15th century. Johnny combines his Indian heritage with his British upbringing and the fusion creates his unique sound.

"I was born in Leeds actually, grew up in London, in English schools, listening to Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran - it was a real mixed bag! The interesting thing about my generation was that it was completely natural to fuse the two musics together. It just took off really!"

Johnny demonstrated this style with some Bangora music, a genre which comes from the Punjab.

"It basically means to dance, just to kind of throw your hands in the air, when you want to release excess adrenaline and you just don’t care who is watching. You just throw your hands in the air, it’s a happy dance, happy music."

Also performing some new music was husband and wife duo, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Kieran Kennedy.  With such a busy schedule between acting and singing, Kay was curious as to when Maria found time to write her songs.

"Just any old time at all really... It can happen anywhere, you’re sitting on a bus, overhearing a really interesting conversation or something that will just happen in your own life or something you will just notice on the news or any way at all. I’d nearly always have a little notebook with me and a pen, I’m one of those people!"

In terms of the level of collaboration between the pair, Maria says,

"It’s kind of different every time. Often, he will compose music and give it to me and that will inspire me to write a melody and some words… We have such a history together, we have a shorthand and we have a lifetime of shared reference. I play a little bit of piano but I’m not accomplished musically so I can never say I think that needs to be an F# minor to a something, but I can say, I think it needs to be darker or colder or it makes me feel a certain way… He can understand that and make music around that, so I’m very lucky."

Click here to listen to Arena and find out more at