New Music From Derry (Spring 2018)

The occasion of a new video from STRENGTH N.I.A. is a time to sit up & pay attention. Their self-described “Werewolf Pop”, indigenous Derry music made on pieces of dead machinery was so effective & affecting that, to do things right, I asked a friend who  knew a bit more about the band to contribute their views. In July of 2016 Paul Pj McCartney, a stalwart of & an authority on the Derry scene kindly wrote this piece. If you missed it it’s just a click away. Strength N.I.A’s new song “Brendan Bradley” to my ears, sounds like the most complete realisation yet of a manifesto to reflect the culture of their city in their music.

 

 

Brendan Bradley was a footballer from Derry in N.Ireland, he holds the record for the most goals scored by an individual in League of Ireland soccer history. His career spanned from 1966 – 1986. Brendan Bradley grew up in the Creggan area of Derry, a Catholic estate that was a ‘No Go’ area for the British army during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It was during this time that Brendan was detained by the British army at a border checkpoint in the 1970s whilst traveling between the North and the South of Ireland for football games. The British army could detain people at will under the Terrorism act of 1974. Brendan was later released and went on to become a true Irish sports legend scoring a total of 235 goals.

 

What a song this is, spare & true with a haunting beauty. A celebration of a local sportsman who made his mark on a wider stage. The video is filmed in the city & features the new Derry City stadium at the Brandywell. When I visited last year the Candystripers were playing out of town, it’s a place I must visit when I return. Singer Rory proudly wears the shirt worn by Owen de Gama, a South African & the only player in the league with his own fan club, in the 1988 FAI Cup Final. I love music, I love football & I love this song. Congratulations to the band & all involved. Strength N.I.A. play a show at the Nerve Centre in Derry next weekend. That’s not one to miss.

 

My good friend Mickey Rooney has knocked around the music scene a bit. I know, judging from the mix that is always playing whenever I get in his motor, that he has great taste in guitar music. So, when he throws his support behind CHERYM it’s only polite to give them a listen &, of course, he’s right. Cherym, formed in early 2017, are guitarist/singer Hannah Richardson, her long-time friend Lauren Kelly on drums & bass player Nyree Porter who explained  “it just clicked we got on and they all wanted to be my friend”. Their first single “Take It Back” is exactly the kind of fresh energetic Pop-Punk you want to hear from a bright young band & it goes like this…

 

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

 

I know, good isn’t it? As Damian O’Neill, still an Undertone, now a Monotone, said “I’m just about to play it again”. The song deservedly caught the attention of local & national radio. You can own it by clicking on “Buy” in the link above. On 12th of May “Mouth Breatherz”, a new EP will be available, live dates across Ireland & the UK are planned as are BBC radio sessions. All the latest news is on Cherym’s Facebook page & I suggest that you get on to them early because these young women have a live set of impressive original material & if you wait until the end of the Summer there will be a long queue.

 

Image result for wood burning savagesOn my first night in Derry I saw the WOOD BURNING SAVAGES play an acoustic set. My impression that they were good guys was confirmed when later in the weekend one of their members picked us up in his van & took us home at 1 a.m., sparing us the hoo-ha of finding a taxi that is traditionally part of a night out in the city. The four piece were formed in 2012, played the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury in 2014 & have plenty of experience gigging all over Ireland & the rest of Europe. What I saw that night was very enjoyable but I’m getting the impression that I did not catch W.B.S. in full effect. From what I’ve heard & seen since these guys like to rock.

 

 

Image may contain: 4 people, including Kevin Magee, people smiling“Stability” is the debut LP by the Wood Burning Savages & will be available next week on the 27th of April. Frontman Paul Connolly says it’s  “a collection of songs about a working class furious at years of empty promises”. You can judge for yourself from the clip above for “Purple Heart” & another for the rifftastic “I Don’t Know Why I Do It To Myself”. They are both full on & very good. Paul isn’t always furious, here he seems happy to help out one of the city’s less fortunate with a copy of the album. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that. Kevin is one of the nicest people in Derry & lucky enough to be married to the lovely Ali). You can satisfy all your Wood Burning Savages needs  by visiting their website. Me, my fancy is taken by the combination offer of a CD & a rather tasty band tee shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Music From Derry (Winter 2018)

Last Summer friend of the blog Emmet Brown put us all on to TOUTS, in his opinion & many others, the best young band in Derry. Self-described as “a singer that can’t sing, a mod that can’t play bass and a drummer that can’t see” the three piece have been consolidating their reputation with quality support gigs for Paul Weller & Liam Gallagher. In October they released “Lit”, their second four track EP, which featured this great racket.

 

 

Image result for touts band“Bombscare”, Pure Punk-Pop for Now People eh! TOUTS are maybe too young to have experienced bombs & scares but those things are part of the collective Northern Ireland experience in a way that those of us on the UK mainland find difficult to imagine. Matthew, Jason & Luke have an energy & aggression which we have heard before from that country’s bands but this is no retread/revival. When it’s done right, which it is here, this music is fresh & relevant. I have a friend who is a major fan of Stiff Little Fingers & I know that she will love TOUTS. The 2 EPs were collected on 12″ vinyl in January but there are only 100 copies of this around & I’m sure that we’re too late for one. Get on over to their Soundcloud page where you can hear some gloriously loud music.

 

A return visit to Derry is overdue. I’m waiting for better weather, global warming can’t come quick enough. When that does come around I’m hoping that it collides with a gig by the Barbiturates. My first experience of the Barbs’ music was a suite inspired by Jodorowsky’s kaleidoscopic, brain-scrambling visionary film “The Holy Mountain”. That’s ambition of Himalayan proportions, something to be admired in a young band. Singer Amytal Gnostic is an e-friend of mine, Everyone’s social media feed needs a sprinkling of random substance-influenced ramblings & Amytal is my guy. Shoot, if the Internet had been about when I was his age capricious & erratic would have been all you got from me & everyone I knew. I like him.

 

 

Image result for the barbiturates derryThe Barbiturates don’t compromise & I like that too. “Only Folkin Jokin”, released this week, is their new musical/video project. The only bite-sized chunk for the 21st century attention span is “The British Political Disaster”, a serious, truthful, moving reflection on the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre. It’s not an easy watch. The 25 minute video mash-up above plays fast & loose with continuity, copyright & musical styles. I’m guessing at Psych-Folk. The Barbiturates are direct, honest & give them a chance. You will not see or hear much like this anywhere else & it will get you in the end. Head over to Bandcamp where you’ll find & can buy the whole shebang, 24 tracks, for just 5 of our British pounds. I look forward to a live encounter with the band.

 

 

Image result for damian o'neillLastly, certainly not leastly, it’s back to where it all began, a new track & video by Damian O’Neill & the Monotones. When Damian was a teenager he got his kicks by playing in the Undertones, the Derry band that rocked the world. The band continue to tour for part of the year & I really must stir myself to catch a set full of perfectly crafted Punk-Pop (hang on, I used that term earlier). Damian continued to impress with That Petrol Emotion & with his current band The Everlasting Yeah on hiatus he has recorded a solo LP “Refit Revise Reprise”.

 

His contribution to the ‘Tones is probably undervalued. With bassman Micky Bradley he wrote “My Perfect Cousin” & “It’s Gonna Happen”, singles good enough to be ranked alongside the songs of his big brother John. For “Sweet ‘n’ Sour” Damian has dug out his platform boots & made a T-Rexstatic, rifftastic slab of Glam Rock. I’m sure that there will be more of the same on the LP which currently is available to buy on Pledgemusic. You shouldn’t have to wait, the records are pressed, I’ve seen the photos.

Bam Bam and the Calling and The Gweedore

 

Way, way back in September 2015  an impressive response to a benefit gig for Syrian refugees provide a one-night-only chance to see the best of Derry’s musical community play live. So I made my first journey to Northern Ireland & what a night it was. The clincher was a rare appearance by Bam Bam & the Calling, the same 4 guys I had worked & played out with 30 years ago. They were good people to know & their band rocked, always had & still did. This week they reassembled to celebrate the Gweedore Bar, a touchstone for the city’s musicians, fans & drinkers who came of age in the 1980’s. It was Xmas, I had places to go, people to see, all of them a long way from Derry. These clips, from the set at the well-appointed Nerve Centre, show that I sure missed something.

 

Derry, indeed all of Northern Ireland in the 1980’s, was a different deal to mainland Britain. Those Troubles, troops & bombs & the shame-faced manoeuvres of political leaders who lacked the will to find a solution, were part of an everyday experience that needed somewhere to go to do good things like play & listen to music. I asked Joe Brown, bass player of Bam Bam & the Calling, for his memories of the Gweedore & an appreciation of its importance to the musically minded youth of his generation

 

 

 

For many of us The Gweedore Bar in the 1980’s was a safe zone. Back then Derry’s city centre  was a different place, other establishments  were  bombed out, burned out, under surveillance (from various factions involved in the conflict) or worse, transforming into a dodgy wine bar attracting people in pastel colours, home perms, no socks and linen jackets rolled up to the elbows…and that was just the blokes!!

 

The Gweedore itself back then was a dingy, dull hole, the faded decor untouched since the “glory days” of the early 70’s. The place was held together with beauty board, flock wallpaper,and the strong aroma of a new smell of something burning other than war. For all its dull outward appearance it was the most colourful, vibrant, comical, open minded, free thinking joint in the town, indicative of its patrons and staff and at the helm was its Captain.

 

Willie Barrett…everything flowed through Willie…he championed everything, from awaydays to see Derry City’s games, quizzes, darts tournaments and his influential starring role as “entertainments manager”. He took it on and became a mentor to every musician who played a note in that bar. The upstairs “lounge” became our very own CBGB’s/100 Club… Any list of the bands that played there would be a very long one & there would still be hundreds of faces & noises that we have forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Image result for the gweedore bar derryNational music magazines, record companies, A&R people, braved the “Troubles” to get a piece of what was becoming the most talked about live venue in the north..and still, the flock wall paper played a starring role…to this day people remember careers being launched/ended and launched again there… Bands came and went, emigrated, recorded, wrote songs, released records, helped one another out and became part of a scene that proved to be both innovative and inspiring.

 

In the new decade the music continued with new faces, longer hair, and t-shirts over baseball tops. There were new owners, redevelopment & wall paper strippers which cleaned up the joint & it was time to find somewhere else that would have us. The impact of those years still reverberates around Derry & further afield. It was a creative explosion of a different kind. In a city where life could be difficult the dirty Gweedore was a place where things could be said, arguments could be had & new music was created & appreciated. The Gweedore and its ethos will live forever…. SEE THE LOSERS IN THE BEST BARS, MEET THE WINNERS IN THE DIVES….(Neil Young “Sail Away”)



 

 

 

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments, night and concert

photo © Lorcan Doherty Photography

OK Joe, “where the people are the real stars” yeah. Thanks Joe for remembering that & thanks too to Jim Cunningham for remembering to take his camera to the Nerve Centre. Jim’s clips capture a band of brothers with an undimmed passion to play the music they like & like they mean it. It’s great to see the award-winning animator John McCloskey onstage. John unfortunately missed the gig I attended, he knows how these songs go, his guitar adds muscle to the dynamic tension of the band. Bam Bam & the Calling keep the flame of big guitar music, Derry music, burning. This great photo of singer Paul Pj McCartney, a man of individual preference in shirts & immaculate taste in music, turning it up & leaving it on, makes me wish I’d been there for the reunion. Next time for sure.

 

 

 

 

New Music From Derry (Summer 2017)

It is with great pleasure that I am able to include this clip on loosehandlebars, it’s been a while coming & it is certainly worth the wait. We have championed the Gatefolds since their first live gig in March 2013. Not only because my friend Joe Brown is the bass player but also because, in the fine tradition of guitar bands out of Derry, Northern Ireland, they made a most acceptable racket. A major highlight of a memory-packed first night in Derry was seeing the band play live. I’m now happy to call all 4 Gatefolds friends, it’s been a pleasure to follow their progress through the videos made by Derry documentarist Jim Cunningham & the receipt of care parcels containing new recordings. Now we have the first professionally shot & edited filming of the band in action & it’s very good indeed.

 

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Photo:Mickey Rooney

THE GATEFOLDS – DISAPPEARING ACT

 

Image result for the gatefolds derryAt the end of April I made the 300 mile journey from my home to the Western edge of Europe to experience my second Gatefolds gig. The guys, a proper Garage band, worked hard in drummer Sean’s garage before returning to playing out & it showed. The guitar interplay of Jason & Fergal flows & surges at all the right times, the rhythm section, Joe & Sean, bring it in subtly & bring it home powerfully. It’s the unity, the 4 of them knowing how the Gatefolds should sound, that is the most impressive. I look forward to hearing studio versions of the new songs.

Over at BBC Radio Foyle presenter Stephen McCauley’s “Electric Mainline” show champions independent music & the local scene. He invited the Gatefolds along to play 2 of their tracks & “Disappearing Act” was caught for posterity. My trip to Donegal was totally worth it (I got a tune dedicated to me, thanks guys). Click on the link & you’ll get a taste of the rocking good stuff.

 

 

 

The best way to get the lowdown on a new young band is to ask a real young person. Keeping it in the family Emmet Brown, son of Joe kindly accepted our invitation to join the ‘handlebars’ karass. Emmet is the Antichrist.  (“What ?”…Really ?”…OH !) Strike that, Emmet is an anarchist…phew !

 

Image result for touts derry band“The word ‘touts’ may have a significantly different meaning in the north than it does most places. Defined as ““someone who betrays a confidence. To squeal, to tell tales, to inform the police of illegal activities”. With a name like that they’re already off to a brave start. With their debut EP “Sickening & Deplorable” its not hard to see where their influences lay. Channeling the power of legends such as the Clash while having the speed of American punks such as early Descendents.
I saw them playing in The Camden Assembly (Formerly the Barfly) in April. I was instantly blown away by their intensity and power. Guitarist and Vocalist Matthew would try to engage with the audience between songs but no one could make out his thick Derry accent. I found this hilarious as I looked around the room at confused faces.
“Saturday Night Scumbag” from their debut EP has to be one of the most fierce and explosive songs to come out of Derry and is exactly what the youth of our city needs. It’s great to see so many young music fans going to gigs and starting bands in Derry. It’s about time!”

 

 

Image result for paddy nash and the happy enchiladasI hope that Paddy Nash doesn’t mind me describing him as a stalwart of the Derry music scene as he’s a big man & I’m in bad shape. Way back at the end of the 20th century his group The Whole Tribe Sings made a single “Happy” which was used in a beer commercial, got them gigs in the US & it could have been, even should have been. After a long break Paddy returned with the Happy Enchiladas as his backing band & there are 6 albums of their sparky, Rock-Folk around. I often encounter Paddy’s name & music through his involvement with local musicians & many community-based projects.

 

This month a solo LP, “Gate Fever” is released. 10 tracks recorded in 6 days it’s a mature collection, sometimes introspective, sometimes retrospective, vignettes & character studies accurately captured. If the songs are a little downbeat well, these are the times we live in & Paddy’s lyrics are studded with warmth, hope & beauty. I feel that I’m listening to an Irish version of John Prine & that’s no bad thing. There’s an interesting video for “We Are The Dead” just up there. If you click here you can listen to “Gate Fever” & buying it is just one more click away.

 

Another Good Friday In Derry

 

My good friends The Gatefolds, I only used to know the bass player but now I’ve had the pleasure of meeting those other 3, took their place on the bill at Sandinos regular “The Long Good Friday” shindig which, for 10 years now, kicks off Derry’s Easter musical weekend. The ‘Folds ended 2015 on a high, playing before their biggest audience yet when supporting hometown heroes the Undertones on their Xmas return to the city.

 

 

 

I’m told that Sandinos, a friendly, funky rock & roll bar, an essential pit-stop if you are ever lucky enough to visit Derry, was rammed for the evening. “Reason” is a new song, more punchy pop-psyche, great guitar/vocal interplay from Jason & Fergal  with drummer Sean giving it plenty. In the Gatefolds’ style the song is tight, energetic, no fol-de-rol or gasconade (that’s a real word !). I’m loving it. Thanks again to documentarist Jim Cunningham for pointing his camera in the right direction.The band have been busy in the studio finessing a new CD single. I have an early version of the 2 songs which sounds fine but if you’re gonna do it, do it right, they hope to have it available in mid-April. I receive regular musical care packages from the guys & if the next one includes a demo of “Reason” then that would be a lovely bonus.

 

 

Headlining “The Long Good Friday” were the Bonnevilles, a guitar/drums duo from 70 miles up the road in Lurgan. Andrew McGibbon (voice/guitar) & Chris McMullan (drums) make a mighty Garage Blues noise. This month sees the release of their 3rd LP, “Arrow Pierce My Heart”, their first for 4 years. Alive Records have made 4 tracks available on the Y-tube (a tough call which to feature here) but be careful, if you give any of them a listen then you will have to hit up the Bonnevilles’ website to find out how to buy the whole thing. It’s inevitable that their line-up invites comparison with the Black Keys. If that’s got to be done then it’s the early Keys, y’know, when they were good. Myself I’m hearing the rawness & drive of those 90s Fat Possum LPs from R L Burnside with added power & drama. The Bonnevilles are sure to be gigging far & wide in support of “Arrow…”. If you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time then you will know about it.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/157999567″>Kick Out The Jams: Lady J</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/northernvisions”>Northern Visions NvTv</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Now this is another drop of the good stuff. In 2015 Lady J released an LP that is still played regularly around here. In September I caught the band playing live & it wasn’t just the guitar, bass & drums, turned up to 11, that shook the walls of the club. Singer Jeanette Hutton is a rocker through & true. She thrives on having that big noise behind her & has the power to ensure that she is heard over it. Earlier this month 3 of the 4 members of the band visited Northern Visions TV in Belfast to record an acoustic session. Drummer Little Hooks switched instruments to provide, with Marty McGill, a double guitar accompaniment to 5 of the songs from the record. It’s a pleasure to have such a high quality capture of the set. The songs are strong enough to be stripped back & even though Jeanette is seated she still delivers her lyrics with impressive power. Unplugged ? I don’t think so.

 

I’m back in Derry at the end of April for more musical adventures, meeting up with new & old friends. It’s Gonna Happen…can’t wait.

Well, This Happened (Best of 2015)

My favourite musical memory of 2015 happened 3 months ago & I intended to include it here before now. It was a gig I didn’t want to miss & it became an epic 4 day adventure (man, I needed a holiday !).  The connections I made with old & new friends were forged in music but this was more than a good night out. Any road up, it was certainly the “Best of” the year so I guess it’s about time…

On September the 10th the Derry musical family assembled at Sandino’s bar for the “Music For Free Movement” concert, part of the positive public response to the distress suffered by refugees fleeing the warring factions of the Middle East. It was not difficult for co-promoters Kevin Magee & Rion McCartney to fill the bill, many musicians in the area wanted to contribute to the evening. The hard part was stage managing the night to give as much time as possible to each act. Two stages featured over 5 hours of continuous music & it was not easy to catch all the great talent from the city showing out for a very good cause. I did my best.

 

It’s been over 25 years since I worked alongside & played out with a fine group of men from Ireland. 3 of them were in a band & I travelled around the country with Bam Bam & the Calling not only to see that they didn’t get lost but because they made great music. This new-fangled e-world put me back in touch with 2 of the guys & wonderfully the group was intact, back in Derry, still making their terrific racket. Bassist Joe Brown plays with a new crew, the Gatefolds. I was able to see their live clips, receive their CDs & help to spread the word by way of this blog. An opportunity to see both the Gatefolds & Bam Bam play on the same night was too good to miss. It was time to plan my first visit to Northern Ireland.

 

From home to Derry took almost 10 hours, a cab, a train, a bus, a plane then a bus ride from Belfast across some rather green & pleasant land. The gang at Cool Discs, an aptly-named record shop, provided a welcome & a place to put myself on solid ground. Kevin Magee took time from a very busy schedule to point me right (a shout to the Cafe del Mondo) in the Walled City. A long day was surely leading to a long night. Sightseeing could wait, it was the music that had brought me here.

 

First up at Sandino’s was Lost Avenue, the youngest band of the night. Derry’s rock tradition has the clang & clash of loud guitars & these guys fit right in. They deserved a bigger crowd & get them for their own gigs as their reputation grows. More great music followed while the venue, a classic Irish ballroom (easy access to alcohol is a clue) with a traditional rock & roll sticky floor, filled up with faces from my Facebook feed. Bernard & I had already bonded over our similar tastes in music & football. Jim Cunningham, the documentarist of Derry music, arrived with his camera. Jeanette & Ruairi are as delightful as I knew they would be. Later their band, Lady J, would absolutely rock this joint. Everybody was so welcoming (not always the case  for me !), I don’t get around as much as I used to but I know that this must be the place when I’m in the middle of good people & good music.

 

 

gatefolds2So here are the Gatefolds, right onstage in front of me. Drummer Sean & guitarist Fergal were, until tonight, e-friends, singer-guitarist Jason & I had never met before & that didn’t matter. There’s my old mucker Joe on bass & I’m watching him doing what he does for the first time in over 25 years. The Gatefolds know that increased volume isn’t the only way to have an effect. Their spiky, still melodic, riffs insinuate themselves rather than batter you. The pop-psych guitar wash builds beautifully, there are times when I could happily listen to them stretch these songs for as long as they are inclined. I had seen the clips, have the few songs the band have recorded, this was better. In the last week the Gatefolds played to their largest audience yet while supporting the Undertones & I have received a new CD single. 2016 looks like being a good year for them.

 

I took a breather, caught an acoustic set by the Wood Burning Savages, a group I’ve known about for some time & a fine one. Sandinos was packed with shiny happy folk, some of them curious about a stranger’s story. Man, I like to talk but I was 18 hours into my day & the headline act, the reason I was out of my bed so early & had travelled so far to see were about to hit the main stage.

 

 

setlistBam Bam & the Calling have played together for over 30 years now. The same line-up. Tonight a family illness had prevented guitarist John McLuskey from attending but Paul, Joe & Tom, ably assisted by Paul’s brother Rion, were still there. It’s more than longevity that has established their reputation as Derry music legends. Paul Pj Mc Cartney has some great songs & is a charismatic front man. Drummer Tom Docherty is just a machine, I think that I had forgotten just how good he is. What I had not forgotten, what had first attracted me to the band & what was still there was the unit’s commitment to playing with passion & energy because that’s why they did it in the first place. The old songs were a blast, the newer ones just as good. The set whizzed by too quickly, my central nervous system overloaded with endorphins producing the widest smile in the hall. I wanted more but I’m greedy. I had waited long enough to hear this, I could wait for the next time. My long day had been worth every minute.

 

Over £3000 was raised for people unfortunate to have been caught in a war & lucky enough to escape to the Greek island of Lesvos…good work. On my long weekend I reminisced, caught up with & spoke about Life with my 3 old friends. I made new friends too. Joe’s wife Gayle fed me, always a good thing. Fergal was already in every bar I entered. The hospitality shown by Kevin & Alison, who invited a strange man into their home, will never be forgotten (nor will Ali’s carrot cake). Good people, great old & new times. It was the music that brought us & kept us together over all this time. You have got to love that !

 

derry

From the L to the R : the author, Paul Bam Bam, Kevin Magee, Joe Bam Bam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Girl Can Sing ! (Lady J)

Last Summer loosehandlebars was delighted to mark the marriage of 2 much loved members of the Derry music community.  ” One of the best wedding receptions ever combined with one of the best rock ‘n roll shows ever” reported our special correspondent & the photos of the smiling gathering confirmed this. The snaps of Ruairi O’Doherty & Jeanette Hutton, still in her wedding dress, performing together on their happy day were the most charming thing I saw all year. This morning the Summer of 2015 was brightened when the postman called with a surprise package containing the debut LP by their group Lady J (with a personal message from the Lady herself….Get me !). It starts like this…Turn It Up !

 

 

It’s OK, you can come out from behind the sofa now. Well maybe not, Lady J make a fierce noise & the album doesn’t take a breath until track 6, “Girl With A Mojito”. The sound is based on a rock solid foundation of a rhythm section of Ruairi (drums) & David Doherty (bass). You would expect no less that a Derry band would get the guitars right & Marty McGill takes it easy on the solos, favouring a more dense, dramatic sound wash. Then there’s the singer. In my e-dealings with Ms Hutton she has never been less than civil (I might go so far as saying she is very sweet). Holy Moly ! Give the woman a microphone & she is a force of nature. “The Creeper” opens the album & is followed by this cracker.

 

 

The lyrics for all 11 songs are written by Jeanette & of course she sings it like she means it. There’s a power & a control which is very effective. No faux-soul shrieking, no reliance on over-enunciation as a substitute for emotion. She reminds me of Maggie Bell, the talented Scottish vocalist from Stone the Crows, another singer with a gift, with control & who rocked. Arrangements are by the band & it’s a big old noise which never runs to the tried & tested, stays tight & never overstays its welcome. The barrage of sound which ends “Take Me Home” is doing it for me right now.

 

At the moment the Lady J LP is only available at Cool Discs in Derry. The staff, I hear, are a bit rough & ready, but I’m sure that they will steer you right. Later this month there will be an online release so head over to the band’s F-book page for all the necessaries.  I know that Jeanette Hutton has been singing around Derry for longer than a gentleman like myself should point out. I also know that this album has been a long held ambition & that she wanted to do it right. Well, she’s happy with it & so she should be. It’s a pleasure to have my copy at hand & let’s hope plenty of other people get to feel the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Dressed To Kill, At Sandinos Bar And Grill (The Gatefolds)

It’s been a busy Easter weekend for the Gatefolds, our preferred purveyors of rhythm & melody from Derry in Northern Ireland. It was the birthdays of both drummer Sean & guitarist Fergal so our best wishes are sent to both of them as they sit alone in a darkened room wondering how time can pass so quickly. Sorry…that should have read, surrounded by their friends & family celebrating the joyous occasion. The birthday boys were joined by bassist Joe & Jason, guitar/vocals, to take their place on the bill of “The Long Good Friday” at Sandinos bar, the now traditional opener to the long Bank Holiday weekend. Here is how it looked & sounded…

 

 

Short & sweet, “Temporary” is a new song from the ‘Folds. I’ve noted before that the band continue the tradition of fine, noisy guitar bands from Derry. There’s a crackling energy about this, straight ahead & no-nonsense but still a fine mix of head & heart. Anything that reminds anybody of early R.E.M. is a good thing. Let’s hope that the Gatefolds play regularly this summer because there’s more to be found in their songs. “The Decorator”, half of their last double A-side single, which you can have for your very own by visiting Bandcamp, is, as you can hear, coming along very nicely.

 

 

The previous weekend had marked the 50th birthday of Paul Pj McCartney & the great & good gathered to mark this milestone. Paul has been an influential part of the Derry music scene for the majority of that half century. The night would not have been complete without a performance from Bam Bam & the Calling, the band which has played & stayed together for 30 years now. The other 3 members, Joe Brown (bass), John McCloskey (guitar) & Tom Doherty (drums), had rehearsed without Paul for this special, surprise gig but all 4 know how the Bam Bam sound goes, how exhilarating & exciting music should be. The band were joined onstage by Raymond Gorman off of The Everlasting Yeah, an original Bam Bammer, for a set of Greatest Hits & covers of the Velvet Underground, Television, Plastic Bertrand…all the greats.

 

 

This set is 40 minutes long & you are all busy people. Seriously just dig into any part of this clip (Raymond plays at the end) & you will find proper, raucous rock & roll played by men who remember the reasons why they started this way back when. They are all making their contribution to this great noise. It’s good to see Tom out of the house & to be reminded that he is some kind of drummer. I have spent some of my most enjoyable musical days in the company of these guys, their performances endorsing that they absolutely walk it like they talk it. Paul still has the sharpest ears around, excavating treasures from then & now for our consideration. Big congratulations on his landmark birthday. We have been friends for a long time & long may this connection continue.

 

 

On The Town (The Gatefolds Playing Out)

There has been so much football in my TV over the past 2 (or is it 3 ?) weeks that I have let a couple of things slide here at loosehandlebars. I must take advantage of  the 48 hour ceasefire to put one thing right because there is new music around from the Gatefolds, our favourite Derry guitar wranglers & it belongs right here with all their other great tunes. A couple of weeks ago (or was it 3 ?) the band gigged in support of Sean Mason’s fine group the Benjamin Chapter. I knew that there was some fresh material around & we are lucky that the archivist of the Derry music scene, Jim Cunningham, was at Sandinos bar to point his camera at the Gatefolds to put us on to the new good stuff.

First up it’s “Latchico Saddle” with a touch of early R.E.M. about the cascading guitars (never a bad thing). This band keeps the faith with the Derry guitar band tradition of making a fine, melodic clatter when you get on-stage. I know that half of the Gatefolds spend too much time listening to esoteric psychedelic soundscapes & I often expect the new songs to be 4-hour technicolour dream, brain melting space odysseys. I love that the guys’ inner-garage band wins out, that they keep it short & very sweet. People go to a bar to be entertained by the band. Hold the self-indulgent ” I have suffered for my art now it’s your turn” for the moment.

A latchico can be a term used for any ne’er do well or chancer. Down in Cork the patois of the insult is taken more seriously, the definition is more particular & sophisticated. So, a latchico is a sniffer of the saddles of ladies’ bicycles while their owners attend Mass ! There is, we all know, some strange & twisted stuff here on the Interwebs. For the real deal you have to have to hang out with the aberrant bunch that I call “friends”. Saddle-sniffing indeed !

“The Decorator” has, to my cloth ears, a touch of Television about it & again you will hear no complaint from me. These new songs sound like the real deal & I’m sure the band know that they need to get some good recorded versions made. If there is a new CD (hope so) they should coerce one of Northern Ireland’s most talented young artists (bassist Joe’s son Adam) to supply free artwork. If not then Bandcloud, Soundcamp or wherever the current place to be is (just not Myspace OK). You will hear it here as soon as I do. Meantimes this is all we have & it’s good enough.

gatefoldsThe Gatefolds (left) & the rest of the Derry music fraternity gathered last weekend to celebrate the marriage of Jeanette Hutton & Ruairi O’Doherty off of Little Hooks, 2 great contributors to music in Derry. Jeanette has told me that it was a great day & the smiling faces of the shiny happy people passing across my computer confirms that the evening was enjoyed to the full by all who attended. ” one of the best wedding receptions ever combined with one of the best rock ‘n roll shows ever” said my good friend Paul Pj McCartney, off of Bam Bam & the Calling. Paul was seen throwing some fine shapes on the dancefloor & I have the incriminating photographic evidence. jeanette

There are also some lovely snaps of the very happy couple  & this one has been making me smile all this week. Of course they also performed at their reception & the photograph of the bride in all her finery with her electric guitar is a wonder if a little blurred. We wish all the love & the luck to Jeanette & Ruairi, in their life together & for their band Lady J who, I am sure, will be included in further bulletins about the music from Derry.

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A Long Good Easter (The Gatefolds and Jim C)

Oh yes, our favourite psyche-pop noise garagists, the Gatefolds, are back. They played their first gig for a while over Easter. The Derry quartet were again part of “The Long Good Friday”, a get-together at local joint Sandino’s on…erm, Good Friday. I had been promised new songs by the band & here is that very thing. “Opentight” shows that rehearsal time at Woodbrook Studios (OK…in drummer Sean’s garage) has been well spent. There are 4 new clips on the Y-tube from the Gatefolds’ set which highlight the solid & sweaty rhythm section alongside a little more contrast, chiaroscuro (come on !) in the guitar interplay of Jason & Fergal. I am loving it.

Now I am over 250 miles away from Sandino’s. It is thanks to the archivist of the Derry music scene, Jim Cunningham, that I am able to see & hear my friends. Jim’s pursuit of what is obviously his passion means that he was getting busy with both his regular & video cameras. I know that a fine Bank Holiday crowd showed out for the gig because there is an album of a gang of shiny happy people enjoying the first day of a long weekend. I also know that the calls for an encore were loudest from Gayle, Foldette #1, who is lucky enough to be the partner of bassist Joe Brown. Nothing escapes the discerning eye of Mr Cunningham.

The other new song is “Smoking Pockets”, the set’s closer but, as the head honcho around here, I get to decide that we will get back to that one. It’s a considered opinion because “Volts & Watts” has come on a treat since I last heard it played. It’s a tune that people say good things about & now it is proper rocking, a grab-your-attention opener which has gotten tighter with time spent on it without becoming too smooth.  I understand the guys are hoping to produce a DIY single this year. I’ve been down to my local bookies (Paddy Power, of course) & put a few shillings on “Volts & Watts” being featured on this anticipated artifact. One day I will get it together & be stood next to Jim while he films.

It was a crowded musical weekend in Derry. The next day, Saturday, was World Record Store Day & my new friend Kevin Magee, a man of discernment, proprietor of the optimistically named Cool Discs (we will be the judge of that Kevin) was peddling his packets of Class A vinyl. There was live music playing & fun for all the family. Maybe every Saturday should be a record store day. In the evening Kevin promoted a concert in Derry’s Guildhall, a rather grand Victorian building which has had its share of history inflicted upon it over the years. Of course Jim was there to record the occasion. This is the Woodburning Savages, in front of the magnificent pipe organ, with “Living Hell”. As Mr Magee would say, “Lethal !”

That looks like a great night. Those British City Halls, expressions of municipal grandeur & civic pride, were around before rock & roll was invented & now provide a classy setting for any band. How about those Woodburning Savages…cooking with gas !

There was more to come in a packed musical weekend. On Easter Monday Jim used his season ticket at Sandinos to document Conor McAteer’s gig. He probably made some moving pictures too, give the man a break, he’s been busy. There are now over 200 videos on Jim Cunningham’s Y-tube channel. You are all capable of finding your own way there but you can also click this. Jim has produced a serious video & photographic archive of the contemporary Derry music scene. Someone should get hold of it, make it nice & put it in a safe place because it is a repository of fine memories for a generation of Derry people.

I have just found out that today is, in fact, Jim’s birthday. So have a great day Jim & know that that thing you do is appreciated by musicians & audiences alike. Nice work fella… keep on keeping on.