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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

jeanette2

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 ?