News From The North Week 112 (Hot Press)

24 10 2012

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


Words: Edwin McFee

This issue I’m pleased to bring you news on the final line-up for the various music-based events at this year’s Culture Night Belfast, which has expanded faster than Axl Rose’s waistline since I last mentioned the bash in the previous issue. Taking place in the centre of the city on Friday Sep 21, the programme now includes Best Boy Grip, the Bonnevilles and Sons Of Caliber performing at the John Hewitt bar (from 6pm-10pm), an acoustic set from singer/songwriter David Paul at the Good Book Shop (from 7.30pm-9pm), Soak, Katherine Philippa and Ciaran Lavery appearing at St. Anne’s Cathedral (starting at 4.30pm) and Girls Names, Third Man Theme and Blue Whale playing the Oh Yeah Centre (7pm-1am) too. With magic shows, performance poetry, burlesque evenings, lindy hop events and a shed-load more all planned, this year’s Culture Night Belfast is shaping up to be the best yet and you can view the full line-up at


Next up, if you’re currently reading this latest missive clad in wellies, a rain coat and, erm, hopefully some sort of trouser/skirt combo and are yearning to go to one more festival before we all get smothered in the icy embrace of Jack Frost, then I bring you good news-a brand spanking new bash called GrassStock has just been launched and it takes place in Belfast on Oct 13 at the Haymarket Arcade and Hudson Bar. Specialising in Americana, bluegrass, roots and alt-country, some of the acts include Acoustic Dan & the Black Mountain River Dipsos, Wookalily and the Down and Out Bluegrass Band and for more details check out


Fresh from supporting Frightened Rabbit on their just finished Irish tour, those fine purveyors of outsider indie sounds Amidships continue their unstoppable rise to greatness this fortnight with news of an in-store show at Tower Records Dublin on Friday, Sep 28 at 7pm. The band, who has earned rave reviews in this very magazine, also play the G Sessions at the Cellar Bar, Draperstown on Sep 22 and the University of Ulster Students’ Union in Coleraine on Nov 2 and I’ll have more Amidships infortmation over the weeks to come (#Mysterious).


Finally this fortnight, at the time of writing the relatively new kids on the block My Sunday Hat has just unleashed their self-titled debut EP out into the wild. Comprising of three classic rock songs (the solo in ‘Cold Winter’ will make you want to air grab like your life depended on it) you can have a listen via so check it out.

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

News From The North 75

4 04 2011

As some folk may already know, for the last three years I’ve written a column in Hot Press devoted to covering bands from Northern Ireland. Here’s one of the more recent missives…


Words: Edwin McFee

It’s “new release” fortnight up here in the north at the moment and it seems as if everyone has something to flog. So, without further ado, let’s get to it. First up, Belfast’s decidedly modish four-piece the Vals are preparing to unveil a brand new double A-side single (‘Look To The One/Emily O’). Featuring the inimitable Mr Henry McCullough (formerly of Wings) the slab of wax is penciled in for an early May date, so get saving your pennies now. The band will no doubt be off on another European festival jaunt this summer and we’ll of course keep you posted.

Next up, if, like this writer, you enjoy a bit of action in the squared circle (I swear that isn’t half as dirty as it looks on paper) then you’ll want to check out the new video for the Bonnevilles’ latest salvo of sleazy blues punk ‘Good Suits And Fightin’ Boots,’ which features some Mexican style Lucha Libre wrestling. Made by the hugely imaginative filmmaker Sean Duncan (AKA Red Cap Productions the clip and single are available on April 7. The band also play a launch gig that night in the Menagerie, Belfast and well worth checking out it is too.

A Plastic Rose (another of Mr Duncan’s previous conquests spookily enough) are planning to still go ahead will the launch gig for their latest mini album The Promise Notes on March 31 despite being stuck down with an illness that forced them to cut short their recent UK tour. Featuring a sterling line-up consisting of Axis Of and Colenso Parade, the action kicks off in the Limelight, Belfast and fingers crossed they’ll have kicked whatever ails them by then. In the meantime, you can catch Red Cap Productions video for ‘Oceans’ via this very link

Recent signings to the near mythic rock label Metal Blade Records, Darkest Era release their new album The Last Caress Of Light on March 26 and play a launch gig in the Limelight, Belfast that evening. Kicking off at 5pm, it’s £5 in and also on the bill are Sirocco and Sorrowfall. Darkest Era’s sound is a sabre-rattling blend of Lizzy and Maiden and the few tracks we’ve heard from their debut are pulse-racing power metal anthems, so expect big things. For more on the Enniskillen/Belfast mob, check out

Finally, we’d like to offer a quick congratulations to Two Door Cinema Club who scooped the Choice Music Prize. As regular readers of the column will know, I’ve championed them for years, so I’m especially pleased to see them get the recognition they deserve. From little acorns…