22 11 2013

As we hurtle towards Crimbo, I plan on whacking up a fair bit of stuff in the coming weeks that sums up 2013, deadlines permitting (yep, key word here is “plan” ).

To kick things off, here’s a piece on Northern Ireland’s very own Grand-Daddy of them all-Glasgowbury, that originally ran in Hot Press during the summer.


The Answer, VerseChorusVerse and organiser Paddy Glasgow offer their thoughts on the final Glasgowbury festival. Edwin McFee is the man raising a glass.


On July 20, 2013 the much-loved, mould-breaking Mecca for Irish music that was Glasgowbury festival finished for the final time. It’s safe to say that the Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry-based bash has had a massive impact over its 13 year existence, offering many musicians-not just from the north-a platform to perform their wares while also inspiring many other entrepreneurs to try something similar across countless counties on the island. With that in mind, we caught up with Tony Wright AKA VerseChorusVerse (a veteran Glasgowbury performer), Cormac Neeson from the Answer (the final band to play the festival) and of course, the event’s founding father Paddy Glasgow, to talk about the last ever trip to the Sperrins, its legacy and what happens next.


VerseChorusVerse: “Our gig on the Friday went from beginning to end in a glorious musical fashion. The band and I had an absolute blast. Jonny Black (guitar) was even happy at how it went, so that’s gotta count for something! We had people dancing-not moshing-but genuine dancing and people were singing along. Everyone that was in that tent left smiling-including myself and the guys


Looking back over the years, I’ve got so many good Glasgowbury memories to choose from. My first year with my old band was fairly special, as was last year as it was my first solo stint. I’ve got mixed emotions about it all ending. I’m going to miss it terribly, but I’m so thankful of the memories and good times. It was a yearly event in July that promoted togetherness and hope for the future for young and old alike, unlike that other event we have in the north in July, if you get what I mean (at least we still have Pride fest though!).


The festival instilled a real sense of worth into all of us musicians here. They treated us with respect and nurtured us all in a way that few of us had the chance to experience before. It also gave us all a sense of professionalism and self confidence that can be hard for a young band to muster at times. Glasgowbury, thank you. Thank you for everything.”


Cormac Neeson (The Answer): “It was a real honour to draw the whole festival to a close. There was a bit of pressure to do it justice but we got an awful lot of love back from the audience. From the word go there was a big mosh pit going on down the front. We got the Streetwise Samba Band to play with us for our encore on ‘Waste Your Tears’ and it was great to hear them beating out these great rhythms to our song. We closed the festival on a high and there was a lot of mutual love in the air.


I got to see some other acts during the day too. Hurdles were really good summer pop and Wyldling were amazing. [Frontwoman] Jilly St John is fantastic and she really sold her band to me. It’s electro pop and not normally my thing, but her enthusiasm and charisma sucked me in. I’ve a lot of time for a front person who gets onstage and gives it everything they’ve got. They’re definitely ones to watch.


We’ve played Glasgowbury three times in the past. We were there when it was just two tents on a football pitch in 2005-ish, whenever we were very much an upcoming band and Paddy took a chance on us. You could tell even then that it was a festival on the up. He had so much enthusiasm for giving young bands a chance and I’m sure he and his team will have plenty more to say over the years to come.”


Paddy Glasgow: “The final Glasgowbury was absolutely brilliant. It was a time mixed with celebration and a certain amount of sadness in our hearts, but for me we went out on a high and the sun gods shone down on us, which made it even more special. When we first started there weren’t any platforms for music [in NI] outside of the two main cities, but now there’s loads and while I wouldn’t call us trail blazers, someone had to ignite that and someone had to start that ‘can do’ attitude and we did it.


When I went to tourism bodies when we first began, they weren’t interested in anything ‘local’ but now it’s all ‘local.’ There’s local music on their TV adverts and local breaks and gigs are all plugged now too, so maybe the ‘wild mountain man’ was right 13 years ago, eh? [Laughs].


It’s the end of Eagle’s Rock but it’s not the end of the ‘Small But Massive’ ethos. The Glasgowbury group has always been about the musician and what happens in the future…? Well, people might just have to wait a bit to find out. I said it onstage on July 20 and I’ll say it now ‘Look out for a Small But Massive stage near you.’”


Hot Press Live Review: Other Voices

11 03 2013

Last month I decamped to Derry to check out the filming of RTE’s music programme Other Voices. As well as some ace gigs to watch, I was put up in the Erin Suite (later renamed “the Edwin Suite”) which featured multiple tellys, my own living room complete with dining table/three piece suite and a class view. Check it out. Nice eh?

Anywho, here’s a reprint of the review that ran in Hot Press. Looking forward to getting back to Derry again at some stage this year.



Unless you’re currently residing in a galaxy far, far away, you’ll no doubt be aware that Derry has been declared the UK City Of Culture for 2013. With a veritable shed-load of events planned to celebrate the title, the Maiden City looks set to become a Mecca for music fans across the island and this weekend RTE’s Other Voices joins in the fun with a visit to the Glassworks. Taking a brief break away from its usual home in Dingle, the programme makers have assembled a stunning array of acts to perform on the intimate stage (which is bedecked with huge, lyric-branded plastic hearts) and Saturday’s night’s line-up is arguably the best of the lot, which is handy since Hot Press has just arrived to get an eyeful.


On first are Dublin quintet Little Green Cars who play a clutch of songs which all sound like future world-beaters. Just over a year since they first performed on Other Voices (an appearance which they described as “the highlight of their lives”) the band have grown in confidence and talent and their brand of emotive, folksy tuneage could put goose-bumps on-top of your goose-bumps. ‘The John Wayne’ in particular is a beautifully ragged tear-stained threnody and judging by the rapturous reaction tonight it looks like they’re set to join Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men in the charts and hearts of the globe.


Next up is local lass made good Bronagh Gallagher who performs a batch of soul-infused songs backed by an ear-gasm inducing brass section and full band. Paying tribute to the likes of Al Green and Percy Sledge while putting her own stamp on things, the loved-up set takes us back in time to a bygone era and sees the be-fringed performer happily playing the role of torch singer and there’s a real warmth to the likes of ‘Not A Star.’


California-born but Manchester-based chanteuse Jesca Hoop is a different prospect altogether. Clutching her white guitar and sporting decidedly mad granny-esque hair, it seems like it’s not just her music that’s a square peg in a round hole, but that’s ok because we like “different” and the change of pace from nu-soul to unassuming Bjork and Kate Bush-inspired oddities is a welcome one. ‘Born To’ is a bona fide outsider pop classic that’s full of hooks that ache and it’s a real highlight in her short but sweet set.


Welsh warbler Marina And The Diamonds closes tonight’s broadcast in style with a stripped back collection of songs culled from both of her albums. Back to black (hair, that is), the singer tells us she’s a little nervous as she’s spent the last month or so doing nothing but “watching Jeremy Kyle” but you’d never know it as she prowls cat-like around the stage belting out ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ and ‘Hollywood’ like she’s the long-lost daughter of Brian Ferry and the low-key setting really highlights just how good her voice is.


After the broadcast, we spill out into the night to check out the Other Voices Music Trail and honourable mentions go to Wyldling, whose set at the Icon re-affirms that they’ve one of the best front-women in the country and Triggerman, whose blues-imbued, riff-laden rock lays waste-almost literally-to the heaving Mason’s bar and as first date’s go, Other Voices’ weekend in Derry is up there with the best of them.




News From The North Week 106

23 07 2012

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


Words: Edwin McFee

This issue I thought I’d kick off proceedings with news about this year’s Tennent’s Vital festival which takes place in Belfast on August 21-22 at Boucher Playing Fields. Some of the more elephant-minded readers among you may recall that the festival organisers recently ran a competition (UnTapped) to find two up and coming NI-based bands to play at the shin-dig and this fortnight it has been revealed that no frills rock ‘n’ rollers Trucker Diablo and hip hop hero Gerard i2 have been selected to appear on the day. Beating off 16 other performers (apologies if that sounds like something from a mucky movie by the way) both turns truly deserve the opportunity and I’d like to wish them the best of luck for the event. For more info on the festival visit


Next up, it gives me great pleasure to announce that drummer with the mighty Gacys Threads and all-round prince among men Stephen Currie has lined up another immense, neck-bothering release for his label Savour Your Scene Records. Specialising in Irish hardcore and metal, the enterprising tub thumper has been in touch to let us know about the impending cassette release of Dublin band Milestones’ new mini album Entropy. The date for your diaries is July 9 and on the same night, Milestones perform at Auntie Annie’s, Belfast and support comes from Death Of A Salesman and Katabolis, so make sure you check it out. For further details on the label and their roster of acts visit


It’s been a while since I last gave you news on the Stendhal Festival in Limavady and in those couple of months the organsiers have fleshed out the line-up for their festival in spectacular fashion. Taking place on Aug 17-18 at Ballymully Cottage Farm, the event now boasts (deep breath) Henry McCullough, Silhouette, Trucker Diablo, Triggerman, Mundy, Pat McManus Band, Mojo GoGo, Best Boy Grip, Intermission, Lantern For A Gale, Wyldling, Peter McVeigh and many more and you can view the full list at The organisers are also letting the general public choose which act receives the final slot on the line-up via their Facebook page ( so head over there after you’re done reading this.


Finally this fortnight, I’ve just enough room to tell you that the always incendiary Fighting With Wire have been added to the bill for the Tanglewood Festival at Narrow Water Castle (round Newry-way) on August 4. For more details have a wee click here