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.

 

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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 ?