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A Northern Light

Down in The Cellar Bar, Draperstown for their second outing at the home of the Glasgowbury Music Festival.

May 14, 2011 | No comments

The Rupture Dogs (12:00 – Spurs Of Rock Stage)

A band with more balls than the Coleraine Jet Centre, the brothers McGreevy and the wee wolf that is Gary Hanratty collectively boarded the stage to some disarray – barriers not yet erected, crowds being held back at the gates – and yet by the third song in had gathered the passing attention of the masses, packing out the tent with an early performance that stood strong in spite of all the furore that came later in the day. Pinging out distilled Foos‘ style riffs, matched by the uniquely talented vocals of frontman Allan, they exceeded all of the requirements (and then some) needed to open such a prestigious event as Glasgowbury’s tenth birthday.

Highlight: Allan asking for the audience to choose their last song, me shouting “Today & Tonight“, and him saying no. I cried inside.

And So I Watch You From Afar (4:00 – G-Sessions Stage)

A secret show that wasn’t so secret, and an audience that not so much as welcomed home four travelling audio heroes, as gave a triumphant thank you to the four horsemen of the sonic apocalypse…who just happen to call Northern Ireland their gaff. Through charging our lungs with material from ‘The Letters EP‘, past a teasing of new material and on to the crushingly strong ‘Set Guitars To Kill‘, And So I Watch You From Afar continually prove that their brand of ‘hoo-rah’ will cause people to sing along to instrumental music, crowd surf and go fucking mental in equal measure. In fact, I’m surprised there wasn’t a birth in the crowd…

Highlight: Going breathless and partially blind during ‘Set Guitars To Kill‘ and then realising that I was fairly dehydrated – a wonderful feeling that only those four hallions can deliver whilst sitting down. Might need a check up…

Team Fresh (4:10 – Spurs Of Rock Stage)

The only logical negative that could be squarely aimed at Glasgowbury over the last few years has been its ability to showcase a much wider range of the music that’s being performed here in Northern Ireland, and this year any solid detractors can tip the hat in the Draperstown direction with the inclusion of such acts as Team Fresh and Pocket Billiards to an already eclectic line-up. With a vibrant animalistic crowd on tap – many of them very aware of what’s on offer – Team Fresh rattled out hit after hit of ‘riffrap’; taking the crowd on an experienced and tight ride through the lives of the North coast faithful. Anyone new to their sound was given an assured performance that rang true of a band stood practised, waiting in the wings, called up to festival duty and hungry to deliver.

Highlight: The powerful front prongs of Slaine Browne and Andrew Dunbar unrelentingly introducing the audience to a taste of the North coast via their powerful lyrical gymnastics.

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A Little Cahir O’Doherty

With their new album in the process of bursting from its nest, Fighting With Wire’s return to the mountains near Draperstown is drawing ever closer. I suppose the question to pose is, where will you be standing on the 24th of July next Saturday.

July 13, 2010 | No comments

by John Gribbin

John Gribbin is a young singer/songwriter and flamboyant man of the hills. He readily breaks hearts and minds with his music going under the name of ‘Building Pictures’, and holds the key to the town of Castledawson.

Building Pictures

The last year or so has definitely been a step up in pace for myself and for Building Pictures! I suppose going back as far as last Summer I was running around putting together my second EP, which was entitled ‘Joey And The Moon‘. It was great to have something for Glasgowbury ’09, and I was so happy with how it turned out.

For me though the Joey EP was primarily recorded for the purpose of my first trip stateside. I was recording those tunes with America in mind, and I really wanted to have something in hand that I could take with me to sell at shows, and to hand out when networking with all the industry heads and potential co-writers out there. Just at the start of August I touched down in New York. With my acoustic guitar under my arm, I kipped on a sofa in New Jersey for a week or so with my good friend Megan from Antrim town, and then I got myself my own room just off Broadway on Queens Island with a few eejits from Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia….so you can imagine our house was a bit of a weird mix. There is nothing that really compares to the sight of a couple of Serbians eating bread folded round some raw bacon for breakfast whilst I attempt to eat my Rice Crispies (which actually tasted exactly the same as the ones you get at home, class…).

I was only in New York a couple of weeks and I had a full band around me; (three fine fellows) Jacob on keys, Rob on bass and Kenny on drums – names which I seemed to find really funny every time I introduced them at shows, I suppose they are not the sorta’ men you are gonna’ meet in Castledawson on an evening. Our first show was in Arlenes Grocery, a legendary venue, and one that has given bands like The Strokes their first gigs. I only had three months in NYC in total, but every time I think about it I remember something great that I got up to, or someone mad that I met on the subway at 3am. What really surprised me about the city was how helpful everyone is…it actually was a weird feeling to meet someone that owes you nothing, yet they shake your hand and ask “Hey man!! what can I do for you?”, this was the typical greeting I got from all the promoters, venues, bands, songwriters, labels, publishers etc…they are just so bloody nice! It really was refreshing.

I think one of the big highlights for me, apart from the gigs (which were the best of my life), was the ASCAP songwriters workshop that I got invited to take part in. I was the only ‘Paddy‘ there, among the nine other songwriters. The deal was that you had to play some of your music to the group, then everyone discussed it. Then you walked away with everyone’s opinions in your head, wrote a new tune, ASCAP payed for the recording of it, then you brought it back to the group and this time around you got it listened to by a shit load of massively successful songwriters. It was a pretty daunting thing like, but it was deadly craic at the same time. I had some man who had written J-Lo’s last album assigned to talk to me about my tune, and he couldn’t get enough of it. Pretty weird actually, but I suppose all these top songwriters are able to appreciate all types of music, which is really cool.

…anyway, I made some great friends from the workshop, wrote some tunes with them after we finished, and totally annihilated all the free food that ASCAP were laying on. So I’ve got Jacob and the lads out in NYC waiting on me to get back out and do a few shows, and I can’t wait to get back out there to be honest. Since getting home I have spent so much time in the studio working on loads of new tunes, particularly a few co-writes that I did out in the states. I’ve done a session with Rory McConnell on BBC Radio 1, and just this week did a wee interview with the legend that is Stephen McCauley on his show, Electric Mainline – and Stephen is going to have me back very soon for a full session with some lovely cello accompaniment all being well.

June will be a busy month for recording as well as some lovely shows in Belfast, Ballynahinch, and Draperstown…and as for Glasgowbury 2010 – is there really anything that comes close to sitting on a hill, looking at the Sperrins with an ice cream in your hand and a burger in the other; getting your head blown off you by MojoFURY and the like?



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It’s Tuesday

The weekend landed, exploded and vanished over the course of the Glasgowbury Music Festival, and by the Sunday morning several thousand people were wondering, “…what just happened?”

Having said that, A Plastic Rose, Tapasia, myself and an assortment of festival casualties relaxed up in the hills at the festival site until nearly five that afternoon in an attempt to hold off our emotional departure. We didn’t want to leave, in case the ride itself seemed less than it was; a mere memory awash with good vibes instead of a tangible experience you can hold onto.

…what went down in the mountains last weekend – despite all the reviews, the photos, recordings and footage that will be on view over the coming weeks – will only really be a part of those who were there.

I’m listening to Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate by festival headliners And So I Watch You From Afar and the context of that song for me has been changed yet again, having already been altered towards the epic, by A Little Solidarity and their very own Mandela Hall album launch.

I feel very privilaged to be allowed to come and support all the local music at the festival, but in particular document and support my good friends A Plastic Rose and Colenso Parade who are two of the most promising bands in this country at present – their enthusiasm really shone through on Saturday and each of them had the audience bouncing with delight (and in A Plastic Rose’s case, jumping, clapping, singing and spinning – in that order…)

…I would be lying if I didn’t say that my bias towards particular bands is not just dependant on their music – I will happily gravitate more towards bands who I think are genuinely nice people, there’s no secret there – anyone enjoys the company of a friendly person.

It’s one of the main reasons why I believe our current situation exists, the intensity of our music community is no co-incidence.

My own favourites from the festival (outside the already mentioned pair) were Skruff, Junior Johnson, And So I Watch You From Afar, LaFaro, Cashier No.9, General Fiasco, Jaded Sun and having never before seen – or heard them – In Case Of Fire tickled me a bit. I’ll be hunting down their album and would recommend giving it a listen.

A massive thank you must be put in the direction of Paddy Glasgow, Stella, Dermot and the rest of the Glasgowbury Music Group who made this weekend up in the mountains possible – last year’s festival was the best weekend of my life, and this weekend has surpassed it ten-fold.

Glasgowbury is a testament to just how strong Northern Irish music is.

Big thanks to the ‘crew’ – Gerry Norman, Dave Reid, Troy Heaton and Ian McHugh, you are going to destroy the Leeds & Reading Festival when you play next month – Darren Doherty, Omar Ben Hassine and Kyle Jaswal; Paul McCarren, JJ Ilsley, Eoin McGinn, Michael McSwiggan and the wonderful Paul Su.

…and of course thanks to Mickey McCullagh, Philip Taggart, Fergal Lindsay and Paul MellonColenso Parade went down a storm, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it if you don’t believe me.

A humble thank you to Graham Smith, for continually putting up with whatever it is exactly that I waffle in his direction, sometimes I just get too excited. Many thanks also to Phil O’KaneRamsey Cardy, Shane Kelly, Ciara McMullan and Kristam Moffett – I hope you all enjoyed the festival as much, if not more than I did.

Of course, I can’t decide to thank people and not mention Rory, Tony, Jonny and Chris – the four horsemen of the musical apocalypse that are baring down on humanity from stages as far flung as Austria, and as close to the skies as Draperstown.

…to quote a wise man – or at the very least a wiser man than myself.

“We’re all freaks, that’s why we’re up here…”

What a great year for local music so far,…what’s next?

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