News From The North Week 108

7 09 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.


Words: Edwin McFee

First up this fortnight, I’d like to introduce you all to a (relatively) brand spanking new band from Derry called Making Monsters that recently have set my “ace new band senses” a-tingling (well, I hope that was my “ace new band senses…..”). Indulging their inner Jean Grey and rising phoenix-like from the ashes from No Mean City and Hybrid, the female-fronted four-piece have just launched their self-titled EP and it’s recommended for fans of neck bothering, hook-laden metal. Available to buy via their website ( and at gigs, the opus is worth the price of admission alone for the final two cuts ‘Sink Or Swim’ and ‘This Snake Bites’ and they stand as some of the best local tuneage I’ve heard all year. The former is a punchy, pit anthem that has a chorus to die for, while the latter is as venomous as a bite from the walking dead (and reminds this writer of ‘Head South’ by Pretty Girls Make Graves) and both feature jaw droppingly good vocals from Emma Gallagher. In short-check them out.


Next up, as I’m writing this latest missive, like many other readers, I’m regularly thigh deep in mud whilst clad in an always fetching poncho at the moment. Now before any wags leap to the conclusion that I’m trying out a new life choice inspired by 50 Shades Of Grey (#topical) I should remind you all that we’re now at the mid-way point of festival season, hence the garb. So, with that in mind, here’s a brief update on some of the north’s up-coming open air events.


Over the last few months there have been more additions to the Sunflower Fest, Hillsborough which takes place on Aug 17-19. Some of the added acts include Pocket Billiards, Runaway Go, Grainne Duffy, Clown Parlour, NI Soul Troop, Colum Sands, Suzanne Savage, Indigo Fury, the Delfinos, Yellow Car No Return, the Red Velvetines, Malaika, Bernadette Morris, the Couth, Axis Of, the Urges, My Fellow Sponges and Concrete Circus and you can check out the full line-up here


Finally this issue, if you fancy being the last act added to the Stendhal Festival in Limavady (Aug 17-18) you better get your metaphorical skates on. Their Facebook page ( are letting the public choose who will play alongside a line-up which already features Henry McCullough, Mundy, Mojo GoGo and more and your deadline is Aug 1. With the likes of Empty Lungs, Uber Glitterati and others all battling it out for a spot, it looks like no matter what the out-come-the public wins (yes, I went there).

News From The North 101

25 05 2012

Here’s a reprint of a recent NI music column that runs in Hot Press every fortnight.


Words: Edwin McFee

While at the time of writing it may indeed be colder than a witch’s naughty bits, I’ve been reliably informed that Spring has most definitely, um, sprung, and with the news that summer is on the way it’s perhaps not surprising that many of NI’s festivals have started making some interesting rumblings recently. One of this year’s heavy hitters is most certainly the Sunflower Fest and their bill for 2012 helps make the bash one of the north’s potential best in the country. Taking place at Tubby’s Farm (just outside Hillsborough and about 20 minutes from Belfast) the three day event runs from August 17-19 inclusive and will feature four stages (the Finn McCool main stage, the Campfire Stage, the Barn and the brand new addition to the shin-dig that is the intriguingly titled Electric Disco Shed) a family area, a cinema tent and various other exciting spectacles too.


However, while the booking of the likes of the well regarded wordsmith that is Scroobius Pip and popular Free Staters Republic of Loose are undoubted aces up the organiser’s sleeve, it’s the NI acts that interest us the most and Sunflower Fest has assembled a great mix of artists from all walks of life. Some of the must see turns include Ben Glover, Fighting with Wire, Duke Special, Nasa Assassin, Lanterns on the Lake, the Bonnevilles, Boss Sound Manifesto and many, many more and the full list can be viewed at Weekend camping tickets are now onsale for £49 via the Belfast Welcome Centre (as well as other approved outlets) and for a full list check out their official site.


Next up, it looks like Stendhal Festival are putting together a pretty stellar bill too. Taking place on Aug 17-18 at the Ballymully Cottage Farm in Limavady, the initial announcement includes Silhouette, the Gorgeous Colours, Axis Of, Furlo, Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas, the Innisowen Gospel Choir and Wookalily and more will be confirmed as the months progress. For further details on the event, including tickets details, check out


Finally this fortnight, by the time you get your grubby mitts on this latest issue, Belfast-based singer/songwriter Michael Kerr will have unleashed his new EP The Australia Fund out into the wild. Influenced by classic tunesmiths such as Tom Petty, Cat Stevens and Van Morrison, the talented troubadour has been making all the right tongues wag of late and you can find out more info on him via his website