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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychotropic Rockers (The Gatefolds 2014)

We are just a week into the new year & I’m bumping into brand new music already. I am keeping my powder dry on the Sky Ferreira/Ariel Pink collaboration. It may be a sparky glam collision or a 3 day wonder or they may try to make Ms Ferreira go to rehab…we shall see. One thing we can be sure of is that the Gatefolds first gig of 2014,  at Sandinos in Derry last Saturday, was a bloody good night out.

Once again Derry’s devoted documentarist, Jim Cunningham, was in attendance to capture the three bands & the audience. For myself it’s a real buzz to see such recent photographs of friends I have known for 25 years & others who only made contact in 2013. If you have any interest in current Irish music (if an artist comes to Derry, Jim will be pointing a camera at them) then get yourself to Jim’s Y-tube channel  (jcee) which has become an impressive audio-visual anthology of what’s going on in the second city.

“Cupcakes” by our boys certainly helps to shake off any post Winter Festival languor. It’s great to see drummer Sean sitting upright after 10 days passed out on the sofa ! I really do like the ‘Folds’ pop with a punch. It feels like it is a continuation of an established Derry musical timeline. The bam-bam guitars have undertones of a petrol emotion & that is a good thing…you get me.

In 2013 a CD, “Six Strings & Stigma” featured 14 bands from the Derry music scene. Produced & curated by Ruairi O’Doherty the original & varied songs were concerned with mental health & any funds raised supported Northern Irish organizations working in that field. It really is a cracking listen, the Gatefolds contribute a belter, “The Last To Speak” & there is a solid quality throughout. I have a copy, if you would like one for yourself then the Facebook page will point you in the right direction. One of the highlights of “6 Strings” is “Waiting On A Rainbow”, a self-written song by Jeanette Hutton with a lovely Celtic strength & the assured restraint of music more concerned with emotion than with display.

Jeanette (” a gem… one hell of a voice” said a correspondent) has been a fixture on the Derry music scene for some time & on Saturday her new band Lady J played out at Sandinos. Ms Hutton has traded her acoustic guitar for a Telecaster & on “Turn Me Over”, things are looking nothing but good for the band. Providing drums & a most impressive beard for the band is the aforementioned Mr O’Doherty. Jeanette is lucky enough to be marrying Ruairi in the summer so let’s hope that their year is filled with luck, love & music. I like Lady J.

Well all right ! There was big love for “Volts & Watts”, the set closer on Saturday night. Deservedly so…the tune has great attack. I know that at least a couple of the band do have lysergic musical leanings. I’m sometimes surprised (relieved ?…I’m joking) when Fergal & Jason resist the attraction of the space opera & keep it tight because that psychotomimetic thing is certainly hanging around..oh yes.  Our cameraman was probably beating the rush to the bar so this clip is from October when the Gatefolds launched their single on Nervous Pulse Records.

It’s almost a year now since the first tracks by the band turned up on Bandcamp. There has been good music to discover & Mr Cunningham has allowed me to check for the gigs. It’s nothing but a pleasure to hear the new tracks & to help spread the word about the Gatefolds. These 2 tunes need to be sorted & recorded, more live sets to be played. If I made a list of stuff that I look forward to in 2014 (I don’t, I’m not that lame) then hearing from the Gatefolds & the fine musicians in Derry, is up there with 3 points on a Saturday & other good things.

Finally, Joe Brown waves his arms in the air, waves them like he just don’t care. What was he thinking ?