CultureHUB Magazine - Issue 8

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Welcome to CultureHUB. We aim to take the reader on a journey of learning and exploration of diverse, eclectic expressions of culture. We are delighted to announce that as of this issue, CultureHUB is changing. We are stretching and branching out. We will still be presenting, highlighting and showcasing wide and varied cultural aspects BUT we now have a much larger canvas to cover. From this issue, CultureHUB is Eclectic NI. We are not saying farewell to Belfast; rather, we are embracing all of NI - or at least as many of the elements of culture that we can discover, uncover, reveal and depict. Welcome to the new CultureHUB!

Creative Director: Anna Wherrett Editor: Scott Boldt Cover Design & Layout: Anna Wherrett Cover Photography: Tremaine Gregg Cover Guests: Anthony Toner & Ursula Burns Journalists: Melanie Brehaut, Neryse Coleman, Stacy Fitzpatrick, Cara Gibney, James-Alexander Johnson, Lilia Lalaoui, Paul McAvoy, Adam Henry Magee, Pat McGannon, Gemma McSherry, Stephanie Mitchell, Conor O'Neill, Gerard Walton. Photographers: Philip Dorman, Stacy Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Gregg, Liam Kielt.

CONTENTS ARTICLES 4 • Eclectic NI 6 •Moira Calling – A Time to Listen 8 • Americana Roots 10• Stephen McCauley Interview 12• EASTSIDE ARTS FESTIVAL 14• The Love Poems: Ellie Rose McKee 16• Home Artists Hitting the Road 18•Strange Victory 20• Crafty Belfast 22• Literary & Poetry Events NI 24• Interview: Kristine Donnan 26• Belfast's Beats – Visiting Artists 28• Donal Scullion: A Tempest of Tunes 30• Paul Currie: Passionately Peculiar 32• Wilhelmina Peace – Visual Artist 34• Marion Jordan – Just Right 36• STENDHAL FESTIVAL OF ART 38 • Leesa Harker Interview

CultureHUB Magazine Ltd. Merrion Business Centre Office 6a, 58 Howard Street Belfast, BT1 6PJ Tel: 02895 43 4060

40• EP Review 41• Album Review 42• Studio E11EVEN Exhibition: Outliners 44• Scream For Me Belfast 46• Maiden City – Stay True to Yourself 48 • Reasons to be Cheerful 49 • Anthony Toner / Ursula Burns 50 • Belfast Exposed: Inside & Outwards 52 • Single Review 53 • Comedy Bites

© CultureHUB Magazine Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical without permission of CultureHUB Magazine.

54 • BELFAST MELA – Celebrating 10 Years 56 • Home Education 58 • Glass Eye Cine Club

The careful reader may have spotted that in this issue, CultureHUB has changed from Eclectic Belfast to Eclectic NI. As of this edition, we are reaching out and unfurling our cultural wings.


e would have liked to have done this from the start, but we have needed the time to establish ourselves. I am particularly excited about this development because there are so many varied and diverse cultural expressions out there and I am largely unknown to the police outside of Belfast.

If you are reading this in Bessbrook or Boho, Stranocum or Sandholes or if you come from the north-west city with at least two names or are an islander of Rathlin, may I welcome you to CultureHUB. I am aware that it is common for people based in Belfast to assume that anything outside BT1 to BT17 is the hinterland and that somehow it is always 4

easier for people to travel to Belfast than for us to go to the same place; at CultureHUB we know this is fiction. We love Belfast but are greatly excited at discovering and presenting all the cultural jewels and gems in NI. We settled on NI partly because we didn't have room for many more characters, and also we think it suits whether you like North of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Near Iceland, Nationally Imperfect or Naturally Indecent. Like most things in life, it's the people that matter and ultimately that is what we are about. We are continually amazed and inspired from what we find in regard to the breadth and depth of talent, ingenuity, creativity, humour and originality that characterise the people inhabiting this part of this island.

Although people around the globe tend to know about this wee part of the world for its divisions, it is remarkable the extent to which culture connects communities. Despite political, social, religious and economic disparities and distinctions, people throughout the history of this jurisdiction have come together, collaborated and cohered around cultural expressions whether those are sport, music, theatre, comedy or crafts. It is peculiar but conflict, whether it is within a person, in relationships or part of the society where you live, tends to release or force out new and creative expressions, if only to escape or make sense of the senseless, or to point the way to alternative realities and alert people to the beauty veiled by fears, pressures or insecurities.

As Harry Lime famously pointed out in The Third Man, “Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock”. Notwithstanding Harry's potential wisdom, I maintain that insecurities remain in NI even though the process of peace has become part of the culture now. The insecurity is not simply or not really about safety but more about identity. Few places reveal your social affiliation based on how you pronounce the letter 'h' or whether you know what a traybake is; nevertheless, even if I don my Union Jack underpants or say the flag is green, white and gold, am I fully British or completely Irish? I'm thinking that NI could stand for 'Neither Identity'. It seems that if you take your identity to be Irish (have a passport, can pronounce Caoimhe, coach the local camogie team, tune the uillean pipes), it will be that way when you are in NI, but you might not just feel the same or be seen as 'really' Irish when you're chatting to locals in Kilbeggan or Dungarvan. On the same hand, if you say you are British (have a passport, coach the local netball team, name your daughter Ruth and live in the Province) it will be that way when you are in NI, but you might not just feel the same or be seen as 'really' British when you're chatting to locals in Stockton-on-Tees or Wigglesworth. No matter who you are or who they think you are, you are welcome to CultureHUB – NI, and of course, the new normal is much more diverse than Irish or British or being a Northern Irelander. Our aim is to discover and present aspects of all cultures as we find them in order to inform, inspire and integrate them into the wider understanding of life here.

Scott Boldt Photography: Phil Dorman 5

If you are in Belfast on 10 September, venture out, head west and respond to Moira Calling at the Demesne, Moira. Brown Lemonade NI is serving fourteen acts on two stages, delectable delights and carefully crafted cider and beer. Where else would you be?

Brown Lemonade NI (4 friends): When did you guys come up with the idea? Obviously there is a lot of work involved organising a festival; just how much time has gone into planning it so far? The idea was first muted in April 2015 and once we realised that we were serious about it after a day out at Slane to see the Foo Fighters, we set about making it a reality. It’s four friends (Michael, Olwyn, Jillian and Andrew) with a genuine passion for music, food and drink who wanted to put on an event that in reality, they would like to attend and which also highlights the amazingly talented individuals who make music, food and beer/cider in this country. Since the beginning of 2016 it has been endless planning, meetings, debates (sometimes heated) but all undertaken with a goal in mind and sometimes admittedly over a few craft beers and ciders.

I think if we counted up the hours clocked up organising Moira Calling it would frighten us, but in the end all the late nights and frustrating phone calls, emails and bureaucracy involved will all be forgotten when we see that first band step out on stage.

Food wise what can we expect? What tastes are catered for? The best way that we can describe the food at Moira Calling would be ‘street food’. We don’t want the normal frozen burgers and chips you see at a lot of events and wanted to give something that shows what 6

Brown Lemonade NI

Michael, Olwyn, Jillian and Andrew

talented food producers we have in this country. We have no doubt that all food tastes will be catered for including vegetarian / vegan with food offerings on the day from General Merchants, a vintage ice cream van for both the big and little kids, and many more surprises.

There are a few festivals around Northern Ireland (e.g. Sunflower and Stendhal), how will Moira Calling differ? I suppose the first way Moira Calling will differ is that we see ourselves as a music festival alone and not as a music with visual and performing arts which Sunflower and Stendhal bring. They are two fantastic festivals but we definitely feel there is room for Moira Calling alongside them and for all three to thrive. Secondly whilst we definitely welcome children (between the four of us in Brown Lemonade we have five kids aged 7 – 14), what we are trying to do is to get the children to come along and appreciate both the music and food on offer and to let them experience something new to them. You won’t see fairground rides and bouncy castles as we want children to feel very much a part of the experience of Moira Calling as the adults do.

What act(s) are you looking forward to the most? That is sort of putting me on the spot as we are very excited about the depth and diversity of our line-up. From a personal point of view, I'm really looking forward to seeing Hudson Taylor, exmagician who are currently getting lots of much deserved airplay across BBC Radio6 Music and especially PORTS, who in The Devil is a Songbird, have released one of the best albums of 2016.

Would there be any plans for a weekend long festival, perhaps next year? Yes, most definitely. We are doing all we can to make Moira Calling in 2016 a success with a view to expanding it over a weekend in coming years.

We have been overwhelmed by the number of very talented local bands who have contacted us ... asking to play this year’s festival and we have no doubt this will continue and hopefully Moira Calling will continue to grow.

What is the favourite festival you have attended?

In your opinion, is much festival culture copied from Europe/England? Do you think festivals on the isle of Ireland are quite distinctive? I think this is true; in reality those festivals in England especially and Europe for a long time were all Irish festivals had to model themselves on, but I think as time has gone on they are starting to do it their own way and long may it continue.

Barn on The Farm in England, an inspiring experience which will live long in the memory. Relaxing, friendly and with so much great music; can’t wait for next year. One of the things they seem to be able to do is catch acts before they hit the big time; recent examples of this have included Ed Sheeran, James Bay and Hudson Taylor. Long may this continue.

Do you think there is much repetition in festival culture in Northern Ireland? I think that festival organisers in Northern Ireland are trying really hard to make their festival more of an experience rather than just about pitching a tent, listening to the same bands as every other festival and drinking warm, tasteless beer.

There appears to be more of a focus on allowing local talent, who many of the festival goers will maybe never have heard before, to shine and this is something that we at Moira Calling are very passionate about. Add to that a passionate desire to provide better food offerings, craft beer and ciders, and you have the makings of the perfect festival.

Pat McGannon Photography: Angel and Anchor 7



e’re spoilt for choice in regard to roots Americana for the foreseeable. It’s a better class of problem, but I do apologise in advance for the crackers I can’t squeeze in here. First piece of important news: American country blues folkster Charlie Parr is playing Belfast’s Voodoo on 26 August. Stick that in your diary. Limavady's Stendhal Festival (12-13 August) has Dublin’s self-titled 'folk miscreants' Lynched as a headliner. Godfather of folk Martin Carthy loves Lynched. “They have original thought” he told me. “Each member has a voice but I love their singer Radie Peat. She’s fabulous. The lads are great too, but she’s fabulous.” There’s also Badly Drawn Boy, and The Henry Girls, and more at Stendhal – check the website. Pub rock rhythm & blues-ers The Strypes are headlining Sunflowerfest near Hillsborough (05-07 August), but visit Sunflower’s Dawsons Campfire Stage for some of the cream of local music. There’s a fusion of folk, country and bluegrass from No Oil Paintings, for example. There’s also singer songwriter Stevie Scullion’s three-piece band Malojian, and Jealous of the Birds will be offering alt-folk-rock that is too, too good not to mention.

This is class. Belfast’s Feile an Phobail will be entertaining passengers on various Metro bus journeys to and from West Belfast, with traditional musicians from Andersonstown Contemporary and Traditional School of Music. The festival also presents Sharon Shannon, Mary Coughlan, and Frances Black in beautiful Clonard Monastery on 09 August. 8

Bangor’s Open House Festival spans 01-31 August, so there’s a lot on. Like the sweet harmonies and tight finger picking of Spirit Family Reunion playing on the 13th. Mike Scott is in conversation with the help of music and film clips, and there are those gorgeous duets from Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) & Jesca Hoop. Oh! And if you haven’t yet seen Derry band PORTS – make a point of it – thank me later. There’s a serious dose of fair dues due to EastSide Arts Festival for their “Evening with Nick Lowe in Concert - St Patrick's Church Ballymacarrett” on 20 August. There’s nothing funny ‘bout that. Actually, the festival offers plenty of church action. Ken Haddock, Anthony Toner, Wilfie Gilbert, Matt McGinn & Amanda St John take over Willowfield Church, in the round, on the 10th; then The Peacock Angell Band will be filling St. Martin's Church with music that is “lush, magical and multi-layered” on the 17th. The incredible, indefinable Yorkston/Thorne/Khan experimental group is in The Crescent Arts Centre on 06 August. White Denim’s psychedelic blues Southern rock hits The Limelight on 17 August, and here’s a shout out for Hilden Beer & Music Festival - Rackhouse Pilfer, Kaz Hawkins, The Bonnevilles … Tony Villiers … ‘nuff said. And did I mention Charlie Parr in Voodoo ..?

Cara Gibney

STACKS BOOKSHOP As you enter the Stacks Bookshop website, you are met with the following quotation. “When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.” Christopher Morley When you enter Stacks Bookshop, you don't just walk into a space of bricks and mortar with books, LP's, greeting cards and DVD's – you may discover a whole new life. Patrons do indeed experience the warm welcome of Jim or Alice which conveys a lovely and loving friendliness; oft times they encounter Sparky's (Jim's) joke telling which, on rare occasions, does provide humour. More consistent laughs can erupt when he breaks into song which (unfortunately) is not a rare occasion. Stacks Bookshop is situated on the Comber Road just across from the Ulster Hospital. Visitors (which seems a more appropriate term than customers) have access to over 30,000 books which are updated on a weekly basis. The stock ranges from popular and modern to rare out of print first editions, from Archaeology to Zoology and everything in between. University students frequent the shelves seeking scholarly sales, those heading on holidays hover over relaxing reads while bantering browsers bargain for even better book buys. Unnaturally knowledgeable, the Stacks' proprietor not only can turn an enquiry into a discovery, but also he often transforms a query into a quest, reeling off a range of recommendations to spark new and satisfying reading rendezvous. There is all heaven and earth to be uncovered between the walls and within the pages of Stacks, and it is little wonder why those who enter like to loiter to experience the cosy and casual community that is daily created amidst the comprehensive collection. Stacks prides itself on providing a prompt and efficient service, and in addition to the shop, Stacks' mail order business is burgeoning, especially since Sparky has about half a million books in storage from which to meet most any request. “It is clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying, and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.” Agatha Christie, The Clocks. To discover new worlds and perhaps a whole new life, visit Stacks Bookshop between 10am and 6pm Monday to Saturday.

Stacks Bookshop • 67 Comber Rd • Belfast • BT16 2AE


f there was ever a pioneer, an ambassador for music, BBC Radio Foyle/Ulster presenter and DJ Stephen McCauley is it. An obvious affinity with music, invisible rhythms and imperceptible melodies metaphorically emanate as he talks. “It’s inspired me to do things, it’s inspired me to make radio. The great thing about music as well is that people who really love music find each other … you eventually find your tribe. Some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life I’ve met solely through music. So the role music plays in my life, I just couldn’t even put it into words. It’s vast.” A passion has borne an idealistic career for him, but initially the world of radio was far removed from his thoughts. “I would make mix tapes for friends, the old cassette mix tapes and they would say ‘Would you ever think of doing a radio show?’ and I was like ‘No,why would I do that?’. I imagined that radio was something that other people did, people far away did. I knew there was a Radio Foyle but, with the very notable exception of The Gerry Anderson Show, it didn’t seem to be of any relevance to me, it didn’t seem to be part of my world. So I would say ‘No, I’ve no real ambition there, I’m happy doing these tapes.’” Electric Mainline, Stephen’s first show still runs today. His own concept, he taps into the collective desires of music lovers just like himself. With a strong local music element to it, the show features some of the best music from across Northern Ireland.


“It was never designed initially to be a local music programme. Local music has been the backbone of the programme the whole way through, but the idea of it was that it would be an alternative program. My attitude was take these incredible local songs and put them side by side with incredible music from London, incredible music from New York, from San Francisco, wherever it comes from in the world. Put them side by side because that’s where they belong.” Whether it’s local or worldwide, Stephen chooses his music based on its sheer brilliance and because he feels something special. Simply, if he plays it, it’s because it is brilliant. “I remember when And So I Watch You From Afar came along and La Faro. At about the same time they hit their stride, and I have to say that they were my two favourite bands on the planet bar none! It wasn’t a ‘wee nod’ to the local - none of that rubbish. So that’s the thing. Local music is as good as anywhere on the planet. And that’s the point that has to be made. Local music is as good as anywhere else.” Stephen's newest show ‘Soundscapes with Stephen McCauley’ enables him to explore his own creativity. The core of the programme focuses on a bespoke sound recording for each show. “That’s the show I’m most proud of to date definitely. I’m so happy with it. I make the soundscapes straight away and that’s the heart of the programme. Everything else flows out from it. Sometimes it can be quite tightly themed around it, other times it’s imperceptible but that’s the starting point. Each soundscape dictates it’s own music. It does feel like cinema without the visuals. It’s been amazing because I’ve learnt a lot doing it and about what it is I’m trying to actually do. You’re taking these things that ostensibly could be everyday things. It could be the sound of a kettle boiling or whatever. But when you put music to anything, it’s almost like it shines a spotlight on it and you have to focus on what’s happening.”

“I’ve been supported immensely in here. I’ve amazing people I work with. So just to have that level of support is amazing because people trust you. When you’re not trusted you will kind of shrink. But when you feel you are trusted, and I feel I am trusted here in the BBC, you want to do them proud.” A public testament to his dedication to broadcasting, his unique vision and talent, Stephen won PPI Broadcaster of the Year award. “That was such a surprise. Even being nominated was just amazing, I couldn’t believe it. I never for one second got involved in radio to win awards. Awards are lovely but it’s the last thing on my mind when making radio, the last thing. So it was a real shock because I was up against people I really respect. My mum was really, really proud. She was over the moon! But it felt surreal, genuinely surreal to win that award in a room full of your contemporaries all across the island.” Philosophically summing up the role music holds for him he asserts: “The thing that really excites me about it as well, I’m never going to get to hear every piece of music that’s been made; I think that’s amazing. Because it means that from here to the minute you die, you can be learning, absorbing, discovering constantly. The world can be new constantly. That’s a great thing.” Listen to Soundscapes with Stephen McCauley on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle every Wednesday from 10pm. Electric Mainline on BBC Radio Foyle every Thursday from 7pm. His daily afternoon show is on BBC Radio Foyle from 3pm. All shows are available to listen again via iPlayer: Find the full in-depth interview online at Interview & Photography: Stacy Fitzpatrick

On Soundscapes, Stephen combines interviews with people from all walks of life with music and real sounds. “There’s an alchemy when you add music to that kind of experience and all those sounds. It becomes intensely visual and it becomes really significant as well because it focuses you really in on somebody’s life and what’s going on.” Being able to combine earning a living and having an outlet to inspire an audience, the appreciation for that is not lost on Stephen, valuing his colleagues and position at the BBC.


EastSide Arts Festival 2016 provides 11 days of inspiring and diverse events from 10 to 21 August. The festival programme is packed with 100 events including music, comedy, films, theatre, talks, workshops, visual art, exhibitions, poetry, community events and heritage tours plus over 50 free events.

Rachel Kennedy, Eastside Arts Manager, described the festival as, “... a truly inspiring and diverse programme that not only showcases the creativity and talent within east Belfast, but also attracts artists and audiences to come and celebrate this talent with us. During the festival people will be inspired to have fun, try something new and importantly see the east of the city as a community that is full of creativity, colour and, above all, one that is on a journey of renewal�.



mong this year’s musical highlights are two headline concerts in the unique and beautiful surroundings of St. Patrick’s Church. Nick Lowe, the ‘Headmaster of British Rock’ will be performing rock, country, soul and pop, featuring Nick, his guitar and the incredible acoustics of the church; a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Anúna is perfectly suited to St. Patrick's combining atmospheric costumes, candles and movement, and delivering a span of material from the choir’s varied and eclectic repertoire as well as a number of pieces from their new release, Revelation. Music fans can also check out the unique take on the blues purveyed by the Kaz Hawkins Band or a mix of Irish folk, jazz and the ethereal from the Peacock Angell Band. For younger audiences there’s The Late Twos with support from Petty Youth. The fantastic Woodstock Rhythm & Blues Festival opens the EastSide Arts Festival this year and features headliner Andy Fairweather Low in addition to local musicians Amanda St John, Anthony Toner, Ken Haddock, Ronnie Greer and Rab McCullough amongst others – a stellar cast. As part of the EastSide Arts Festival, the Strand Arts Centre will be screening Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Big Lebowski and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. For fans of written and spoken word, treats include a special Page to Stage event with Lucy Caldwell, Rosemary Jenkinson and Hugh Odling Smee, a magical mystery bus tour with poet Alice McCullough and a showcase of the best of EastSide performance poets in The Pen Points East. Want to know more about east Belfast? You can check out one of the intriguing heritage tours on Van Morrison, The First World War, history and architecture, or a Gaelic Tour of East Belfast. EastSide Arts, an initiative of EastSide Partnership, aims to develop, support and deliver a wide range of arts activity and creativity across the east of the city with a commitment to the social, economic and cultural regeneration of the area. In addition to the EastSide Arts Festival and the Woodstock R&B Festival, there are arts' activities throughout the year, including the C.S. Lewis Festival.

To mark the Somme anniversary, local actors Sam and Joan McCready, along with a brass quintet from the Ulster Orchestra, present Letters From The Front - a selection of poems and letters giving accounts of this harrowing time; also featured is The Prodger - a story about a Catholic Irishman who fought at the Somme. Looking for some comedy? Then look no further than Neil Dougan’s ‘Heretics’ and Head the Balls’ - a humorous look back at 500 years of Protestant Culture, or ‘1916 Tim McGarry Goes Over The Top’, a brand new stand-up show about the history of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, with Tim’s usual take on things.

EastSide Arts Festival is delighted to feature the 20th Anniversary celebrations of Creative Exchange Artists’ Studios. Using places and spaces across east Belfast such as the former Engine Room Gallery at Portview Trade Centre, this special occasion will be marked through exhibitions, debates, talks, a billboard project and a special wishing tree community art workshop. Other festival visual art highlights include Poolside Watercolour at Templemore Swimming Baths, a sensory dining experience at Framewerk and a series of social arts events at St. Martin’s Church. This year’s festival is also packed with workshops and community events, talks and tours, and much more. Check out the full programme at:

Follow updates on Facebook Join the conversation on Twitter #ESAFest16. @EastSideArtsBel



Ellie Rose McKee ‘The Love Poems’ are, yes, you guessed it, a series of love poems by Northern Irish poet, author and blogger Ellie Rose McKee. The poems can come in either the form of a paperback or ebook; the paperback version with its array of pastel colours and soft dusty tones is almost enough to be admired in its own right, but alas, we must never judge a book by its cover! What's clear from this little bundle of self published delight is the poet's desire to delve into not just the conventional, but also the less commonly explored forms of love we can at times feel accustomed to take for granted platonic love, love between friends and in families, love of humankind. Ellie's works endeavour and often at times succeed in exploring the less 'artistic' issue of love within a family, the unofficial driving force of society. It may sound like Ellie is tackling a broad and expansive subject matter within these subtle works; however, Ellie's poems try their best to stand their ground firmly. Marrying together emotions of loss, grief, despair as well as happiness, lust and elation, Ellie manages to create a space in which the reader touches upon the cycle of intoxicating romantic love/infatuation that so often ends viscous and abruptly The 40 poems could perhaps at times have been more fiercely edited, it's easy to dip in and out of the rhythm of the works, but perhaps then the key is not to approach the poetry as a bulk rather than as a reference point. As a debut self published and self edited project, 'The Love Poems' cement themselves firmly in the expansive and renowned landscape of Irish poetry, and with a collection of short stories and a novella to complement the poems, Ellie is making sure that we notice she has arrived.

Gemma McSherry 14

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It’s the time of year when almost every musician has their guitar case on their back, keyboards in the van and drum sticks in their pocket ready to hit the road. Festival Season is in full swing throughout August, the perfect opportunity to sample many of the island’s finest homegrown musicians.


or a midweek treat and some home culture, see Sharon Shannon smoothly play her accordion and fiddle at Clonard Monastery on 09 August as part of the August Féile. Joined by Mary Coughlan and Frances Black, this will be a delight to any Irish culture seekers.

Sister Ghost hailing from Co. Derry will be delivering a charged set of Alt-Rock/Garage Punk to the Eglantine Bar along with Mosmo Strange, the alluring, confident and edgy indie-rock outfit from Omagh as well as Belfast’s own The Left Blacks; all happening Thursday 11 August.

Donegal Folk favourites Altan will be at An Droichead on 27 August. Known for their exquisitely produced traditional music, these are a must see for any Irish music lovers. Mid-September brings renowned Irish Folk singer songwriter Christy Moore to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall for not one but two dates, 17 and 18 September. Moore, the founding member of bands Planxty and Moving Hearts, has four decades of musical acclaim in his repertoire. Also on the 17th, if you fancy combining some comedy with your musical experience, The Rubberbandits may just be the thing at the Belfast Empire. The Limerick duo hilariously and ingeniously merge hip-hop with artistic comedy; guaranteed laughs and bemusement awaits. On Wednesday 21 September, The Black Box hosts Goats Don’t Shave, returning to Belfast as part of their album tour. Performing old classics as well as new music from Turf Man Blues, this Donegal band will melt you with a kaleidoscope of songs. From humorous tales from the countryside to tear-inducing ballads delivered through a myriad of instruments, including banjo, mandolin and harmonicas, this will be an entertaining yet sweet taste of Irish countryside life. 16

At Tubby’s Farm Hillsborough, the Sunflower Festival gathers a wealth of artists from 05-07 August. This year’s musical line-up includes Cavan rockers The Strypes, Jealous Of The Birds, Amanda St John and Malojian. Malojian, aka Stevie Scullion, fresh from a recent Glastonbury performance, already has two acclaimed albums under his belt with a third new album, This is Nowhere, due for release. As well the bands, the beats will be pumping with homegrown DJ’s and dance outfits including Bloom, Chris Hanna and Belfast Easy Crews Reggae and Ska sets. Do not miss Belfast’s premier Drum N Bass DJ Nephilim appearing on the brand new Electromoot stage on Saturday the 8th. Nephilim, a stronghold on the scene, is absolutely guaranteed to deliver a charged set that will definitely fire up the party. See the full line-up at: Indie icon Tom Robinson plays a special solo acoustic show at Smalltown America Studios, Derry on 11 August. Supported by uber talented Best Boy Grip (BBC Radio 6/Radio One up and coming favourite), this is an excellent chance to experience quality live music in an intimate environment. Tom Robinson will also perform at the Space Theatre in Bangor the following evening, 12 August as part of the Open House Festival. Derry Indie four piece PORTS will perform at the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor 14 August along with album collaborators ; hairs will stand on the back of your neck as they deliver songs from their debut album The Devil Is A Songbird. Also playing will be the Open House Festival Choir; indeed, a perfect way to spend a Sunday in September. Up and coming band, The Darkling Air will also be in Bangor at Queens Parade Church on the 25th. The fairly new duo blend Irish folk with classical vocals and arrangements. Ones to watch out for! August the 27th brings an immense gathering of some of the best musicians in Derry in the form of Bennigans Bloc Party. Featuring PORTS, metal-rock high risers Making Monsters, the hotly tipped Touts, Scenery, Eoin O’Callaghan’s Wake America, Oisin O Scolai & the Virginia Slims, The Docs, and Reevah, this mini festival under one roof at Bennigans bar will be explosive. Moira Calling launches for the first time in Moira, Co. Armagh on 10 September. The one day festival spectacular will have a range of live music, food and drink. With 14 singer-songwriter acts, it will be a packed day of activity, including headliners Hudson Taylor, Derry band PORTS, David C Clements and exmagician. A mighty impressive line-up for the festival launch. See full details: Ulster Orchestra pianist Ruth McGinley plays at the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn on 23 September as does electro-acoustic producer Michael Mormecha following the release of his debut album LOfi LiFE on 30 September. Mormecha has been receiving an abundance of praise, capturing attention from the likes of the BBC Arts Show and BBC Radio. Stacy Fitzpatrick 17


What’s it like inside the head of


arren Smyth could tell you. He’s the man behind Strange Victory, the independent music promoter responsible for gifting Belfast with acts like Mudhoney, Sleaford Mods and Grandmaster Flash. Indeed, he could potentially be the only person in Belfast who has worn the giant head of Frank Sidebottom. He remembers it well. It was 2007. He’d been a fan since he was 14. “He was just the nicest man in the world,” Smyth told me “and a total lunatic. We ended up back in the Europa where I was putting him up. He wouldn’t let us buy a drink … he sat on his bed playing Beatle songs on his Bontempi organ. One by one everybody fell asleep until it was just me. He had the head in a drum case. So I took it into the bathroom and I got to try it on, only for about 10 seconds, but yeah. It’s not much of a rock and roll story, but I got to wear the head.” Strange Victory started seven years ago; the first gig being either Billy Childish or Lisa Hannigan. It’s hard to remember, there have been so many. Before that he worked under the moniker of Fortune Cookie, putting on 100 shows, ranging from Cat Power to Biffy Clyro to Richard Hawley. For the first few years of Fortune Cookie, he worked with good friend Pete O’Neill, and after that he worked solo. After 90+ gigs, plenty of which didn’t cover costs, he could feel his enthusiasm for the ongoing struggle starting to diminish. Then one day he received a phone call. It was Gary Lightbody, with whom he had worked a number of years earlier on the two Reindeer Section albums. Basically, Lightbody saw what Smyth had been trying to do through Fortune Cookie. He understood why it’s important that Belfast is introduced to non-commercial, independent, over-looked artists who aren’t mainstream enough to draw big audiences. He got why, after being starved of culture for so 18

many years, Northern Ireland needs to be given access to genuinely talented, original, innovative and pioneering acts. So he gave Fortune Cookie a hand that would keep it afloat, allow it to continue the cause. “He did it purely because he kind of understands what I do” Smyth explained; “It spurred me on.” Smyth started booking for what was to become Strange Victory, and Lightbody’s donation covered costs for around 80 shows. Now, so many years later, the money is long spent, the shows are long over, but Strange Victory is established and Smyth has self-funded the further 60 acts that have performed since. Despite the impressive amount of acts that Strange Victory has brought to Belfast over the years, he’s still a one man band. “All the shows come out of my own pocket. I take all the risk; do all the work. Pretty much everything apart from getting up on stage and playing the tunes or doing the sound.” “Thee Oh Sees is possibly the best show I've ever been at, never mind promoted," he reflected. “In 20 odd years of putting on shows, it’s just sometimes you get the timing right with things, and you can see something. There are hundreds if not thousands of things I’d want to bring over to Belfast. There are acts that are household names - in my mind - but 70 people have heard of them in Belfast. That doesn’t make the figures add up. Not that it ever stops me.” The future indicates no shortage of variety in the acts Strange Victory is bringing to Belfast. Upcoming shows include American experimental rock group Battles, Welsh singer songwriter Cate Le Bon, Plaid, the electronic music duo from London, and American country blues musician Charlie Parr. With more to be announced before the end of the year, keep an eye on to stay up to date.

Cara Gibney • Photography: Tremaine Gregg



was in a shop in Hamburg harbour years ago. Shelves and boxes of odd ornaments and records, weird art, fixed-up dresses and button jewellery. Then a large white rabbit bounced past me. Turns out it was the owner’s pet, but there was one moment when I wondered had I really just seen a white rabbit.

Crafty Belfast is the only place in this neck of the woods with the same vibe. Emma Gilles is the artsy entrepreneurial brains behind Crafty Belfast, the boutique/venue/ salon/‘hectic eclectic house of art & design’ that she runs from the basement of the iconic Maple Leaf Club, just off the Holywood Road. Voted "one of the coolest places to visit in the UK" by The Guardian, Crafty Belfast offers everything that the non-mainstream heart could ever desire. If you’re interested in ethical-restyled-one-off fashion or have a hankering for uniquely customised furniture, you need to visit Crafty. When you become tired of that same old look, the Crafty Belfast private Eco Hair Salon can equip you with a life-saving hip new boho style. Any brides-to-be looking for an eco-hen-party without the balloons and the rude drinking straws need to have a word with Emma Gilles.


Cara Gibney Photography: Bernie McAllister Erin Elizabeth Kelly Photography

Professional hair stylist Gilles pins up people’s hair while the rest of the party sip cocktails and craft themselves a memento that they can keep and use. “They make, say, some beautiful fascinators and they put them in their hair and you see them sitting there like peacocks. The first time that happened, I know this sounds stupid, but I nearly cried. I had to look away. They were so chuffed with themselves; they’d made something so lovely.” Gilles has expanded this idea on to ‘Electro Craft & Cocktails’ nights. “A menu is placed on each table of what to make, whether that’s a bracelet or a hair accessory,” she explained, “Then you’re brought all the pieces and you make the item. Later on people can dance the night away to our #CreativeClub Electro beats.” Two ‘Electro Craft & Cocktails’ nights are running on 12 and 19 August; however, Crafty Belfast works its hoodoo way beyond the confines of the Maple Leaf, with Crafty pop-up night clubs and guerrilla boutiques travelling out to events and venues all over Northern Ireland. For more information on keeping it #Crafty contact Emma Gilles on 07598018855 or #Craftylabel clothing and accessories will be for sale on from September

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EVENTS •NI Support Group for Writers Derry Playhouse Writers, The Playhouse, 5-7 Artillery Street: Every Wednesday, 1pm-4pm Writers of poetry, novels, plays, short stories, biography, autobiography, scripts (film and television) and essays gather for support and encouragement. Free Admission

Big Summer Read Ballymoney Library: 18 July to 22 August Larne Library : 03, 10, 17, 24 August Newtownards Library: 04 August Ardoyne Library, Belfast : 09 August

For children aged 9-11 Free Admission

Omagh Library Reading Programme •07 September, 7pm – 8pm Armchair detectives, crime reading group for adults

•13 September, 4pm – 5pm, then the 2nd Tuesday of every month

Story and craft sessions for children aged 4 to 8 years. Free Admission, booking essential

Teens talk titles, junior reading group for children aged 12-15

The Rise of Modern Sinn Féin

Bookworms, Junior reading group for children aged 7-9

Linen Hall Library: 19 August – 1pm Lecture with author Deaglan de Bréadun Free Admission

Eager Readers, Junior Reading Group for children aged 9-11

Storytelling for Children Randalstown Library: 20 August Bangor Carnegie Library: 20 August For Children up to 11 years.

Free Admission, booking essential Book Launch – This Man’s Wee Boy by Tony Doherty – Special Guest Jimmy McGovern The Literary Ladies, Long Tower Primary School, Derry : 25 August, 7pm Introduced by Jimmy McGovern with readings by Tony Doherty and others.

Free Admission Autumn Book Fair The Argory, Dungannon: 03 September and 04 September Second-hand books for sale. Live music and children’s activities on Sunday 04 September. £5.50 Adult, £2.50 Child, £13.50 Family, Free for members


Junior Reading Group Dungannon Library : 08 September, 4pm – 5pm, then the 2nd Thursday of every month

•14 September, 4pm – 4.45pm, then the 2nd Wednesday of every month •14 September, 4pm – 4.45pm, then the 2nd Wednesday of every month •20 September, 7pm – 8pm, then the 3rd Tuesday of every month Adult Reading Group, participants do not have to be library members

Free Admission The 15th Benedict Kiely Weekend Omagh’s Literary Festival Strule Arts Centre, Townhall Square, Omagh: 09 September to 11 September Festival about readings and discussions from leading and emerging writers, including Sara Baume, Frank Ormsby, Martina Devlin, Paul Clements, Michael Fewer, Geoff Hill, Thomas Kilroy, John Quinn and Little John Nee. £85, Full Weekend Ticket, £8 Individual sessions, £5 Concession

Derry Writers’ Group 10th Anniversary Celebration Central Library, Derry: Thursday 15 September Showcasing the talent of Derry Writers’ Group past and present. Free Admission

Aspects Festival Main Street, Bangor: 21 September to 25 September Irish literature festival about various forms of writings, with readings, events, workshops, discussions. £5 to £25 admission

For children aged 4-8 years. Free Admission

Reading Group Linen Hall Library: 29 September Discussion about two chosen books : Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons (1932) and Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh (1938). Free Admission

Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition Parliament Building, Stormont, Belfast: 06 October 9am to 5pm

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Bedtime Story-time Finaghy Library, Belfast : 26 September, 6.30 pm, then last Monday of each month



Poetry competition organized by the Funeral Services of Northern Ireland for poets across the country; the prize fund of £800 is shared between the poets. Free Admission

Irvinestown Library, County Fermanagh Senior Reading Group: 19 October, 16 November, 21 December.

For children aged 9-11 years. Free Admission

Enjoy a good read every month.





Adult Reading Group Grove Library, Belfast : Monthly every 2nd Monday




Junior Reading Group: 05 October, 02 November, 07 December.

Free Admission

Contact CultureHUB Magazine 028 9543 4060 Merrion Business Centre 58 Howard Street Belfast • BT1 6PJ Facebook/culturehubmagazine


•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Classical music is often a genre of music stereotyped as the preserve of an older generation, steeped in history and often avoided by younger ears. Belfast musician Kristine Donnan wants to unlock the door on classical music, breathe new life into centuries old masterpieces and show people that it's a genre that can be enjoyed by anybody.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• "I want to change the scene. Classical music has this reputation of being this pretentious genre for only musicians or middle class older people, and it shouldn’t be at all. I knew nothing about it until I was 19 and fell in love with it, with virtually no musical training. I don’t have an artistic musical family or an artistically educated upbringing and it spoke to me; it can speak to everyone. It's not any more complex than popular music, it's just different." Kristine was always musically driven, learning piano from the age of seven and training as a drummer in her teens. She studied at the University of Ulster, applying as a drummer. "I went to my audition but didn't have my band with me, so I auditioned on the piano playing the blues, as I had learned piano as a child. Though my love was drumming, I got accepted on the course … but as a pianist.” 24

This accidentally led to a change in direction for Kristine's future, seeing her fall in love with classical music. "It is Rock and Roll. Classical music was the pop music of the day. ... Until I was about 19, I thought you had to be a classical musician to get it. No you don't. If you feel anything from it, you get it, and if you don't, that’s ok." "I think it's important to know as much as you can about when this piece was written, important things about the composer, stylistic things. Yes, we should know those things so that we know we're breaking the rules. Go and learn that stuff, so that you can justifiably break the rules. That’s how anything progresses, by breaking the rules. I'm not really afraid to break rules, not to disrespect the composer but to say, 'How does this really speak to me? How does this music really make sense … I'm going to do it that way.'"

Explaining how she wants to do this, Kristine continues: "I want to play Baroque music how I interpret it. It's an era of music that's arguably very strict ... but actually when you get into it, it's really not. But people still play it very strict and I'd like to change the perception. Most recordings are boring, or too fast so I try and slow it down so we don't miss it, because music can't just be for the musicians who play organ or the piano, it's for everyone." Classical music as an art form should be respected as should the composers, but it is also as vital to deliver it in a way that modern minds will connect and understand.

As well as running the church choir, Kristine performs in her own duo, Voice and Verse with good friend Laura McFaul. Their main drive with Voice and Verse is to bring music to people who need it. "We auditioned for a company called Live Music Now started by Yehudi Menuhin, a brilliant violinist. He was on the top of his game with violin, world class. I think with him he saw the real meaning behind music and brought it to people that were in need of music. ... He started by going to Vietnam war veterans all over the world and he went to care homes, homes for the disabled children. He spent a lot of time in Chernobyl; basically, just bringing music to people who didn’t have access to it.

"We're playing with totally different instruments now. Certainly for the Baroque period, instruments have changed. And if I want to make this piece as beautiful as possible, or rock and roll as possible, whatever - I have to adapt that to this modern instrument that I'm now on. I don't mean make it accessible or dumb it down.

Laura and I auditioned for it in the Northern Ireland branch, and we go to a lot of care homes and hospices and it's fantastic. We end up learning a lot of new music such as Vera Lynn, that we would never have thought of which older people would know.”

After finishing her degree Kristine returned to Belfast where she now works as a Choirmaster and Organist. "I've been so lucky, I have a brilliant choir. They’ve always had a reputation for being good. ... It took a while for me to get settled and them to get used to me … I'm the youngest by a good 30 years compared to what they've been used to but I love it. It keeps me on my toes.”

Musing on her mission to bring classical music to a modern audience she concludes: "We're not in the 14th century anymore, and if this music is going to have a legacy, we have to transfer it to our time now. It doesn’t matter what background or class you come from, what education you have, if it speaks to you, it's nothing you should shy away from ...” and one thing Kristine Donnan is not is shy.

Interview & Photography: Stacy Fitzpatrick


If you’re missing out on the countryside festivals this season, fret not. Belfast brings the festival experience to the city, wecoming a plethora of musical visitors from across the globe; likewise, the regular city haunts host some of the best and most vibrant performers on the scene. There is more than enough to keep the musical thirst quenched.


Whilst the Sunflower Festival takes place at Tubby’s Farm in Hillsborough from 05-07 August, Brit rockers The Kooks join The Coronas and Crossfire Hurricane at Falls Park for the Féile an Phobail Big Top on 06 August. The following day 90’s girl band All Saints appear 07 August.

The Féile, on from 03-14th August, will bring a host of known names from years gone by to Belfast. How about Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes To Hollywood on the 11th, Dutch dance stars Showtek on the 12th and the legendary Deacon Blue with Hue And Cry on the 13th? Closing the festival on the 14th will be the ever popular Wolfe Tones. For more information visit: Scottish folk musician James Yorkston returns to Belfast with his new collaborative friends Suhail Yusuf Khan and Jon Thorne.


The trio make an unusual union with Khan, from New Delhi, a sarangi master, and Thorne a jazz-rooted double bassist. Performing at the Crescent Arts Centre on 06 August, this will be a unique chance to listen to their distinctive new album Everything Sacred. The sarangi, a Nepalese string instrument that is said to mimic the human voice remarkably, infused with Yorkston’s melancholic folk strums and Thorne’s double bass; this will be a true East-meets-West musical experience. For some ‘Jamaican Rock N Roll’ catch US five-piece The Slackers at the Belfast Empire Music Hall on 10 August. Joined by Aggressors BC and Boss Sound Manifesto, this is a must-do gig for any reggae/ska lovers. Dick Valentine of Electric Six will be at Katy’s Bar on the 12th. Remember, ‘Danger, danger! High Voltage!’? Well, that’s him!

New York’s experimental rockers Battles play The Black Box on the 16th. Innovative, quirky Battles combine synths, frisky drum and bursts of bass guitar rhythms to produce a psychedelic experience. One day later, from the US come White Denim to Limelight 2, a band influenced by most sub-genres of rock, such as progressive, psychedelic and punk rock with a bit of blues, jazz and dub thrown in the mix. They will be supported by Wicklow female trio Wyvern Lingo - think electro 80’s pop with smooth harmonies. Belsonic is back in the second half of August with a cluster of big hitters. The Corrs along with KT Tunstall and Declan O’Rourke set up stage at Belsonic on the 18th as does UK Ska legends Madness on Saturday 20 August. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Catfish and The Bottlemen will sort your evening on the 23rd, as will Disclosure for the dance fans on the 24th. Fatboy Slim makes his Belsonic appearance on the 27th. Tennants Vital brings megastars Red Hot Chilli Peppers along with Fallout Boy to Belfast on the 25th with Avicii then headlining on 26 August. If Country and Blues music is your thing, head to Voodoo to see Charlie Parr on the 26th as part of his Irish Tour. English singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole will be at the Belfast Empire Music Hall 24 August, playing a solo performance of the ‘Classic Lloyd Cole Songbook 1983-1996’, a collection of his musical work over the two decades. Into September when the last of the bank holiday weekends has passed and life’s routines re-emerge, the musical events taper off. There is still plenty to do in various venues across the city as resident artists and regular fine entertainment take their spots. The Black Box’s monthly Spanish duo Los Dramaticos will remind you of that recent Spanish holiday with their upbeat, fiery infusions on 03 September and create a longing for a visit to Chile or Mexico. For Fleetwood Mac fans, head to the Belfast Empire Music Hall on the 3rd to see Ireland’s tribute act Mack Fleetwood. Some big hitters are still visiting Belfast as the leaves look to change their clothing. For Boyzone fans of the 90’s, Ronan Keating will please, playing at the Waterfront Hall on 06 September. Electro duo Plaid are ones to catch at The Black Box on the 9th. Their atmospheric compositions will chill the mind and take you somewhere else. They will be joined by Northern Ireland’s Boxcutter whose experimental samples combined with dubstep will deeply invigorate. Into the end of September, pop-rockers Against The Current, all the way from the USA, will storm Mandela Hall with an over 14’s show on the 26th. Favourites with teenagers, expect energy and zest from this young trio. And closing September, we cannot forget US rapper Obie Trice, well known for his time with Shady Records. He plays at Limelight 2 on the 30th. A must see for rap lovers!

Stacy Fitzpatrick 27


A TEMPEST OF TUNES For newcomers to Donal Scullion’s work, the term 'singer-songwriter' just doesn’t seem enough. A good place to start is the recently-formed Spider Collective; an aptly named project for a man whose creative mind spins in so many directions - folk, reggae, prog – he seems to have done it all.

Anyone familiar with his live shows will recognise a relentless commitment to keeping things interesting. Performances of tracks like ‘There’s A Storm Coming’ and ‘Life Is A Marathon’ take an almost Arcade Fire-esque enormity with their attention to instrumental detail. So, how, I asked him, does a ten-piece band like that come about? “I released an album last year, Superpowers. I got together a band to do a launch, and the Spider Collective grew after that night. I’ve got a lot of musicians coming and going as well. I’ve got a background in music composition at Queen’s, and I write all the brass and strings. Lots of people don’t know how to do that, and they’d be bringing in people who would have to do their own stuff. I know I can get it all written and arranged. I try to leave room for the players to do their own thing, but the core of the song is already there. Even though there is a big crew, we can still get stuff together pretty quickly.” 28

While the Spider Collective has its roots in folk music, thanks to Donal’s formative love of the likes of Bob Dylan, Glen Hansard and Joni Mitchell, his passions also seem to rest in reggae. He fronts another project called The Vibes, which in turn originated from his own NI Soul Troop. On this reggae foray, Donal says, “The Vibes is more of a collaborative thing. Steeky, who plays bass in The Vibes, plays keyboards in Pocket Billiards. It was his idea that we put together a reggae thing. We were at some festival, and it was about x o’clock in the morning!”. The Vibes have been a regular in The Belfast Empire of late, with a regular residency, and the story of that shows how an innocuous conversation can snowball into rock n’ roll. “At the time, The Empire were looking for a band to take a residency, and we had never actually met. I kind of blagged the residency before we had the band together. We got together a pretty good crew! We recorded our first album, which we should be putting out in the next few months. We’ve already started on the next one.” 'Love On the Dole' is one song that has become a local favourite. Floating around online, there is an old filmed acoustic rendition with his brother Conor in stitches at the tales of smack addictions and taking a girl out for a romantic bottle of Strongbow. “That was the first time Conor had heard it. The Vibes have done a newer version of that on the album. That song has kind of become an anthem for lots of people. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, but I do think it has a point as well. It has a social conscience, a lot of

which has been lost in today’s popular music. Everybody’s afraid of being offensive. They want to appeal to kids, parents and grandparents at the same time.” In addition to his own work, Donal has contributed some brass arrangements to some local contemporaries, such as Ciaran Lavery, Malojian and Ciara O’Neill. He admits, “It was cool, because I was still figuring out how to do that. It’s nice that they’re starting to get successful themselves.” On the possibility of reciprocation, Donal simply replies, “I hope so!” As if that wasn’t enough, a few toes have also been dipped into the world of theatre, with a 2015 Edinburgh Fringe appearance as the musical director for the ponydance company’s ‘Ponies Don’t Play Football’ show. Looking back fondly, Donal describes it as “a bizarre show.” “I came from playing in pubs and festivals with bands, so to be doing a show at the Fringe was a pretty cool place to be, because it’s something I never thought I would get the chance to do. I like the creative process to be as much of a surprise for me as everyone else. I don't think I could have planned where I am.” On chances of hitting the big time, feet are firmly on realistic but hopeful ground. “If I can get one of them to pay the bills, I’ll focus on it!” With so many musical balls in the air, and the talent to back it up, it will surely be only a matter of time before one of them will be a slam dunk. The Vibes will be playing with The Slackers in The Belfast Empire on Wednesday 10 August. Check them out!

Gerard Walton Photography: Tremaine Gregg

I have two days as a living statue outside of Cork. I’m a Victorian copper-coloured gentleman. I have to wear a fake beard. Paul scratches his own bushy chin. ‘Beard on beard. The make-up never comes out.’ He shakes my hand and leaves after thirty minutes of clowns, asexual monkeys and The T Word. The self-proclaimed Court Jester is off to do voice-over work for kids’ TV show Lily’s Driftwood Bay as I lift an empty coffee cup, curious and coaxed back into my own childhood by The Passionately Peculiar Mr Currie.

Describe Paul Currie in three words. Idiot. Avant-Garde. Dickhead. Funniest word? Crevice. Funniest animal? A baby sloth. They don’t look real! They do not look real! Last thing that made you laugh? Meowing in my friend Danni’s face. Right in her face. We do that now. Animals play a big part in your comedy. What draws you to them? All living creatures interest me. I like the innocence of stupidity. I love teaching kids. I teach a programme called Itty Bitty Circus. From 2-7 year olds and it’s one of the highlights of my life; teaching complete, innocent nonsense. I find that more inspiring than seeing certain comedians. You recently performed your new show FFFFFMILK at The Black Box and will be taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe. Tell people what to, or what not to expect. Stupid silliness. There are dark elements to make it more personal. I’m more honest with the audience. I wanted to drop the silly for a few seconds to show a spark of humanity and truth – just for a minute. It’s a lot more fast-paced with the music, the skits. I like non sequiturs to quickly


move on to the next. So a throwaway line, a prop, a look three bits back sparks another laugh. The audience are constantly catching up with your brain. I like the brain in a tizz.


One of your comedy partners is a silent, lethal orangutan, how did you meet?

Are you still separated from this stage persona?

In America. I still don’t know what the sex is. I like the fact it’s asexual. It doesn’t have a name. It’s just monkey. I think if I name it our relationship will shatter and it’ll probably get more famous - infamous? Watching you feels like you’re reverting back to childhood, it’s very interactive and playful. Getting the audience on-board, yeah, it’s essentially how kids would be towards an adult. If you’re playing with a kid, the kid takes charge immediately. It’s based on play, not boring, dictatorial – do the dishes, do the IKEA furniture. Using our imaginations and playing with what is at hand. Your act is a departure from standard NI comedy; did that happen consciously or organically? A bit of both. I was born in 1974, but, the politics, my friends, we made sure it wasn’t a big part of our upbringing. With punk and alternative comedy, our general mindset was to sit on the periphery of it all. That bled into performing. I was always attracted to comedy that wasn’t in the mainstream. Python, Spike Milligan, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out; that solidified my love of the absurd.

Very. I felt I couldn’t get on stage just as me. I had to have a mask on.

It’s all a mask. From all comedians, Stewart Lee, everyone is. Being a part of the comedy world is that it is just theatre and no one wants to mention that. It’s the elephant in the room in Stand Up. It’s rehearsed. It’s written. It’s a one-person theatre group. It’s a script. It’s theatre. But no one wants to mention the T Word. They want to think that it’s raw. With your Security Check Sketch, you’re physically playing off of audience members, and you’re trying to create a familiar situation and taking it to a peculiar place without words. There’s varying degrees of embarrassment in every one of us. But once you’re standing in front of a new strange person, you have to build a new relationship. But, they know they have to follow the leader. There’s clearly an agenda. What’s your agenda as a comedian? To make people laugh! To make me laugh. Basically teach adults how to play again. And with that he left, to play at The Hive, Edinburgh Fringe 05-28 August and at New Theatre, Dublin Fringe 14-17 September, so why not play with him?

Is it escapism?

Interview by James-Alexander Johnson

Not really. It’s making a joke of everything, not one specific subject like other comedians do in a long diatribe. Hopefully I want my audience to laugh at the bigger picture. Existence is just absurd. What we’re doing now with your phone, me talking into that, makes no sense at all to me. Even this shirt I’m wearing that was made in some sweatshop. It’s all nonsense to me.

Photography: Tremaine Gregg

It’s celebrating nonsense. Laughing at yourself. Comedians, we’re all mirrors; clowns mirroring the absurdities of society. What was your first gig? Auntie Annies. A character piece, I was this Northern English comedian, Harry Logan. Five minutes with a rubber mask on. It was disgusting. Tommy Edinburgh ticket sales:

Edinbu rgh Fr

inge 05-28

Du blin Fringe


14-17 Septem




Wilhelmina Peace, 26 years old, is originally from France, and came to study anthropology at Queen's University. She soon realised however that her love for art was stronger and instead of studying about cultures, she has set out to engage in and create culture. Even if she has always drawn, Wilhelmina began to work at her art seriously only a few years ago. Wilhelmina doesn’t have a real artistic background and described drawing as a ‘hobby’. “Ten years ago my parents offered me a compilation book about famous people of the millennium. I just took the book and began to draw famous people’s portraits, naturally.” During this time she was attending life drawing classes at the Crescent Arts Centre, which brought her more self-confidence, and she says she’s still learning everyday. “My art is an emotional and psychological process. It describes my internal, passive feelings”.

Wilhelmina describes her art as a work of translation. “My art is the language and the drawing the grammar”. She loves nature, flora and fauna, and tends to translate abstract ideas into concrete ones. When you take a look at her work you really feel the omnipresence of nature, with spirals, sea shapes; it’s a recurrent theme in her art. She tries to make intelligible what is not really understandable. “When we don’t have the words in front of a painting, we still have an immortal seed in us, a sacred one, we can’t explain that with words”. This is exactly what you feel in front of her work because Wilhelmina expresses her deep feelings, even if they are blurred. She sees art as, “a means to discover myself, to understand better who I am”. In a society in which, according to her, artists feel a deep disgust and unease, because of conspicuous consumption, she affirms that “My art is politically engaged, as all forms of art are, and it uses something I would like to see more in this world - beauty and tenderness. You know that Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ … I tend to use women in my work because I feel women embody an archetypal representation of gentle calm, maternal comfort and mystical sensuality”.


Her words help to clarify the link between beauty and tenderness and the peaceful atmosphere of her art with sparkling colours. In the harmonious world of Wilhelmina, “all arts are beautiful, because it comes from somewhere precious; the creative need is fundamentally beautiful”. She believes that we are all artists and that art has the power to change our society. “The creative force comes from a need of evolution, so creation is a step towards evolution”. “I am very drawn to vegetation pouring out of abandoned buildings. To me, that is pure poetry in action. Slow, unrelenting, consistent, full of grace and silent beauty. Belfast is full of these urban poems; perhaps thousands of dilapidated buildings are just resting in plain view, overcome by towering weeds. I find it so interesting how weeds and flowers just grow through anything and everything; eventually the natural world comes flooding back, like an old memory that pursues us until we acknowledge it”. Concerning her influences, Wilhelmina quoted the symbolists such as Gauguin or Vrubel, because their desire for beauty and their romantic soul touches her. As we can see, she is clearly influenced by those artists, with her romantic use of nature and her character’s expressions. She is also inspired by mythology. Her characters have something pure, sacred, and look like nymphs or naiads sometimes. About contemporary art, the work of Alexandra Levasseur and her women in contact with a morose nature are a big inspiration too. She also mentioned the first woman photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, and her symbolist old photographs. Finally, Marco Mazzoni and his amazingly detailed drawings about nature, using the glazed technique, as Wilhelmina does, is also one of her inspirations to create. If Wilhelmina has a message to share through her art it is that the world is beautiful. “Poetry is everywhere, life is a poem”. She wants to reach the sonority of the soul by painting and drawing what touches her. You clearly understand that her work is pure, honest and completely linked with nature. She just wants to spread some beautiful ideas through her art. Her modest aim is to progress in her work, but her secret dreams are to participate at an intensive painting internship in Italy, have her own studio, illustrate some book collections or even paint in a jail, “to put a seed of life there”. Wilhelmina is going to spread on her path her good seeds through her messages of peace disseminated by her art, beginning with Belfast, her city of inspiration.

Lilia Lalaoui To see more of her art visit 33

MARION JORDAN 'd never interviewed a vocalist before and knowing that Marion Jordan sings folk, jazz, classical and sacred, I wondered if her responses would be full-scaled and melodic. Her opening lines conveyed to the waiter that she desired porridge. Porridge? I would never consider ordering porridge in public; not that I'm against breakfast outside of the home, but, for me, it should be a fry, a stack of pancakes or at least a bagel. I searched for an explanation and assume that because Marion is the youngest of eight children, she probably was left scraping the pot for oaten scraps, so having a cereal cooked and served constituted a luxury. I ordered a mini-fry and the conversation commenced. Marion is exuberant and replies to questions joyfully, conveying her love of her craft or I should say crafts as she typifies an eclectic approach to art and life. Her music career was launched at age 17 in Larry's Piano Bar when she realised two important things. First, she could sing better than the vocalists who had been performing there, and second, she would be paid more for singing than waiting Larry's tables, and they would even buy her a new dress to do so. Marion became one of the star guests at Larry's for years until she went off to Dundee to study architecture, and even then, she would return for Christmas holidays and other non-term time performances.


Kyron Bourke was playing the piano back then and Marion still sings to his fine accompaniment. Marion sings and sings; indeed, it seems that she has sung with most of the population. At present, she is the lead vocalist with the Mardi Gras Band (who 'vintage up' tunes from the 70's and 80's) and with Deeply Armed, an intriguing mad mix of rock and techno. She sings with the Swing Gals and with Swingabella. Marion has sung with Ronnie Greer, Nicky Scott, Brian Connors, Foggy Little, Scott Flanagan and even Boy George and Culture Club in Abbey Road Studios, after her over-the-telephone audition had them sold on her silky voice.

JUST RIGHT jazz composition by Will Todd. Marion enjoys the experience of performing sacred music and has worked as soloist with John Anderson's choir, The Voices of Ireland. Before devoting herself full-time to music, Marion worked as an architect. She retains her eye for design and delights in many of the city centre buildings that surrounded us during breakfast. It turns out she is also a deft hand at painting. Like her music, she works in different forms and styles, including painting portraits and buildings. Her most successful art has been of black taxis inspired by her father who captained the famed hackney carriage for his occupation.

Marion first recorded when she was 17 (just a few years ago) as the lead singer of Cairdeas on the album Let Me Hear Your Voice. She recorded a classical album with Sheelagh Greer, both mezzo sopranos, and also sang with her and a collection of musicians (The Musical Express) on a tour of India performing the musical theatre repertoire from the West End to Broadway. Following the untimely death of her brother-in-law, Marion produced a CD called Shine On to raise funds for Motor Neuron Disease. Recently from her time in Dundee, Marion has been collaborating with conductor Graeme Stevenson on Mass in Blue, a unique liturgical

A product of the Belfast School of Music, Marion started there when she was 7 and along the way has played saxophone, clarinet and piano. An eclectic gal with an electric voice and a hectic schedule. She is currently the Artist in Residence at Bert's Jazz Bar in the Merchant Hotel where you can see and hear her nearly any Saturday from 9pm until 12. Breakfast finished and interview concluded, a chat with Marion Jordan is much like baby bear's porridge. Scott Boldt

For updates and to hear her music, visit @singermarion.



The Stendhal Festival of Art, the annual event nestled in the quiet country backdrop of the Roe Valley is now in its sixth consecutive year, this year being held on 12 and 13 August. The significant thing about this festival is that it wasn’t created by a multi-million pound company. It was and still is run entirely by committed, ordinary people with a vision to make a real difference. An idea between friends, borne from their own festival going experiences, has led to Stendhal becoming a multi-award winning festival.

“The idea, it was something we had battered about between friends at other festivals - we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do something like this in Limavady?’.” For festival Director Ross Parkhill, from Limavady himself, attending Glastonbury for the first time opened a new world to him. “I was 20 when I went to Glastonbury. I wasn’t into music or the arts. I didn’t know who Radiohead was! But Radiohead was the gig; my first full concert and festival. That weekend had a massive impact on my life. That’s why Stendhal exists.” The first attempt at Stendhal was organised in 2008, ambitiously and experimental, as Ross reveals: “We tried to launch in 2008, very young, naive, very ambitious. We tried to do it from inception to launch within two months and we had to cancel 10 days before. We lost a lot of money but it was a big learning curve. I don’t regret it though, because had we not done it we wouldn’t have learned and tried to do it again in 2011. It took a couple of years to pay that off, then in 2011 we got it rocking.” 36

Undeterred and more determined, Ross along with best friend John Cartwright and invaluable help from family, friends and the community brought Stendhal back. “The effort and the commitment that goes in … it’s very much a family thing. My sister, my mum and dad, John’s family, so many families. I guess we are really just one big family when it comes to Stendhal. I’d like to acknowledge my parents and John’s parents especially. Without both our parents' support we definitely would not be here, be it financial or moral support through the madness of it all. So massive thanks to them. Everybody’s incredible, amazing.” The success, acclaim and awards for Stendhal are indeed well deserved. Growing increasingly popular year on year, what festival goers don’t see is the hard work, immense commitment and sacrifices made by Team Stendhal to bring it to life. “Planning starts as soon as the last festival is done. It takes two or three months to tie off the last one but the festival is never out of my head. It starts straight away. Team wise, on the weekend of the

event we have 120 to 130 volunteers. Sixty of the team would be active from May every weekend; evenings and weekends, up on the site building stages, fencing, painting … all sorts of stuff. We all have day jobs.” Many volunteers who put in the hard, physical graft are from the local community. The costs to run the festival are substantial and any income generated goes straight back into the festival.

“There’s a massive community

behind it. That’s the

beautiful thing about it to me,

the relationships.”

“As a social outlet Stendhal is a massive thing in Limavady. We have a core team of about 60 people. A lot of them take up to two weeks of their annual leave from their paid jobs for the last week or two of Stendhal which is phenomenal. Those guys … that’s how we exist; everybody’s efforts.” The community spirit attached to Stendhal is admirable and is what makes Stendhal such a unique and progressive festival. It’s real people joining selflessly together to create a memorable experience. “We work with a lot of community groups and likewise they do a lot for the festival. Most sports clubs would struggle to get 50 or 60 people helping but we’re an arts organisation in the rural world. I’m all about rural arts. There’s such a limited amount of opportunity to engage with the arts, in my experience. I suppose that’s the driver to what Stendhal’s about. That's pretty much the ethos - to get people into the arts.” Perfectly emulating its namesake, the festival is named after a French 19th century writer who discovered the experience. “People used to come in from rural Italy in the 1850’s to this art gallery,” Ross explains, “And they had never seen art before in their life. They would come into the Uffizi and they would pass out, the art just overtook them. So that’s the name and the theme - ‘Come and discover the arts’.” Badly Drawn Boy • DJ Yoda • Hannah McPhillimy Emerald Armada • Ryan Vail • The Henry Girls

“Our mission is to

hold an annual celebration of the arts and to develop

a creative place and

creative opportunity.”

“I’ve seen some amazing things through my time at Stendhal of what art can do and the impact on people. And that spills out into the ethos of what it’s all about. Getting kids into the arts a bit earlier, even through workshops we have held recently, crocheting, knitting, music, pottery … people of all ages for the first time in a long time are coming out of the house, as a social outlet and a general outlet for kids to gain confidence, and confidence is the key to any success.” As well as a sweeping collective of arts, spoken word, poetry and craft events, the music line-up Stendhal delivers is epic, spanning every genre conceivable and making it the ultimate festival experience. Summing up Stendhal in a nutshell Ross says: “Stendhal is about bringing about a bit of colour and character to the Roe Valley and Northern Ireland as one of two summer music and camping festivals.” Winners of the Best Small Festival for the last three years, best family festival and best line-up in 2014, this year the aim is to be even better. “We want to win the family one back this year” asserts Ross. And not forgetting the other ultimate goal for Stendhal:


get Radiohead! That’s the mission

statement!” To book tickets or see the full events programme visit: Stacy Fitzpatrick 37


eet Leesa Harker, one of Norn Iron’s funniest novelists and dramatists. I’ve interviewed Caroline Curran, the one woman who brings Harker’s mucky mind to flesh, and like Caroline, they are miles apart from Maggie Muff and Big Sally-Ann. Instead of harsh Belfast tones and colloquialisms, CultureHUB finds Harker to be the polar opposite of her creation, which of course spoiled my previously arranged first question: “Is Maggie in any way based on parts of yourself?” Probably a question every other hack has asked since her rise to national fame and a litany of glorious reviews. To this Harker replies ‘No, but we all know a Maggie Muff or someone like her. With all my characters I tend to pick up little stories, sound bites and push them into a character.” Photos: (top) Caroline Curran (right) Leesa Harker (middle) Andrea Montgomery, Caroline Curran, Leesa Harker

Shankill born and bred, Harker says, “I started writing poems when I was about eight, usually about family members. If it was someone’s birthday or a wedding or an anniversary, it was usually put to me to write a funny poem for the occasion.” After childish mimicry Harker kept writing but not in a serious manner. Before Maggie Muff dragged her into the public eye, Harker, like all good writers worked a smorgasbord of jobs - throw in bank manager, perfume sales person in Debenhams, USPCA animal welfare officer and mechanic … yes, you read that right. No wonder where she got her mucky mouth and enthralling, believable characters. Most know the story of her success by now. She heard her friends raving about this gripping new novel Fifty Shades of Grey and read it herself. Shocked by its content and contempt of women she started a parody on her Facebook page and readers gobbled it up. A few hundred hits led to thousands, then into double figure thousands and suddenly Blackstaff Press, the North’s biggest publisher, contacted her and asked her to write a full book. On how she really got started with serious writing, Harker can’t speak highly enough of her creative writer tutor Maureen Boyle who coached and compelled her to write while she was studying English Literature with the Open University. On advice to budding writers wanting to get published, Harker remarks: ”Just write.” Easy to say from a woman with a gift of an ear for the gift of the gab.


127 Falls Road • Belfast OPENING TIMES: 6AM - 5PM

So what’s next for Leesa Harker? Well she’s working on other projects but refuses to let Maggie Muff grow old gracefully. “When I’m writing a novel now I’ve half my mind on how it will work on stage, thinking of actors, stage design, etc.” It obvious that after coming close to half a decade of working with some of Northern Ireland’s finest heads in theatre (Martin Lynch, Joe Rea, Andrea Montgomery and Caroline Curran, to name just a few), she’s matured from having a laugh on FB to switching the mechanic’s spanner to the writer’s keyboard. She’s thinking of plays with more than one actor playing multiple roles; the boundaries seem limitless. And what are we to expect of Maggie's Feg Run? Her website blurb states: “… So if ya wanna hear about scum in the sun, Sticky Vicky an Abba tribute act that’ll have le tears running down your legs, read on chums.” Belfast you have until 14 August to see this show. For booking details visit or phone 02890 241919. Fear not Muff lovers outside the city. Maggie’s Feg Run plays in Lisburn, Derry, Limavady, Armagh, Cookstown, Newcastle and Newtownabbey’s Theatre at the Mill.

Conor O’Neill facebook/saucypuddings


EP REVIEW Johanna Fegan Cutting Out The Noise

Warriors of the Dystotheque Just Breathe

Andrew Burns Awaken

This three track EP may be small but it certainly is mighty. The first track 'Come Out Of The Water' gently opens with Jo’s unmistakable voice gently commanding attention before empowered drums and bass kick in. Jo’s naturally powerful vocals come into force, reminiscent of a feisty Cyndi Lauper.

With half their mind in the past and their head out the window, Warriors of the Dystotheque have one foot in a boot, the other in a slipper. Portis Head spring to mind, so do does Spacemen 3. Just Breathe is refreshing and relaxing, little tricks of beat and gorgeous Hammond organ soothe and sweeten a rotten tooth as you slowly gasp into the void just short of north but too far from the south to waste your mouth on a scream to a sigh.

Evidently itching to do more than batter his drum-kit in Ceaseless Blight, Andrew Burns has put his creativity to the test in solo project Vintress; he also sings and plays the guitar. Debut EP Awaken reveals a love for blistering black metal - no frills, no genre splicing, just gore, anti-religion and headbang-worthy tracks to leave you with whiplash.

Jagged bass and synths accompany Johanna’s forthright lyrics in 'Stars', a punk rock fiery track loaded with attitude. Third track 'Don’t Love Me For Show' performed with burning emotion reveals her impressive vocal harmony range.


Johanna Fegan with her formidable voice, drive and focus has hit the spot with this taster, coming into her own with her individual style. Cutting Out The Noise grabs you with its instantly catchy arrangements, and the forceful vocals lift the energy. Perfect to shake off a bad day with some ferocious beats and zealous vocals.

EP with just two tunes on it? Cheeky. But if you run from Bella Deanie to the Dub Affair you’ll understand this murder of crows from Ireland, France, UK and America’s reasoning, if you understand the beauty of collaboration. Well done chums, wherever and whoever you are. Where you’re going I don’t know, but I’ll quietly tag along for the ride. Port out, starboard home and away we slowly go. Dub trance which doesn’t quite boil over. Simmering.

Stacy Fitzatrick

Conor O’Neill

Tracks 1 and 2 offer a truckload of that anti-Christian ideology, delivered by scorchingly disdainful vocals, as when he screeches with contempt during '6,000 Year Memory'. The title of third track 'Demons of the Cavehill' offers a local flavour to an age old tale of monsters in the dark, with the lyrics conjuring up gruesome images. It's also faster than the first two songs. The way the lyrics fit into the songs occasionally needs worked on; otherwise this is a polished and promising debut from Andrew Burns. Melanie Brehaut


Beoga Before We Change Our Mind

Ursula Burns The Dangerous Harpist

Lady J’s debut album certainly arrives with a bang, or at least a rumbling bass. ‘The Creeper’ is a delightfully bile-induced dressing down of a toxic smooth talker. The album’s first half in particular carries on in a manner that positions Jeanette Hutton and her band not far off the likes of The Answer when it comes to local bone-rattling classic rock.

Having reached Number 2 in the iTunes album chart in June, Beoga are at the top of their game with latest album Before We Change Our Mind. This release showcases their zesty, Irish traditional sound with plenty of pulsing, toe tapping, instrumental reels. The songs freely build, verse by verse, to reach that fast-paced, crescendoing high that people travel thousands of miles to hear, and feel, for themselves. The five-piece put an edgy and atmospheric stamp on these original compositions; second track 'Eochaid' has a chilling air and just over halfway into the album, 'The Convict' is a startling accordion-led piece with an ethereal piano solo.

Vaudevillian harp-wielder Ursula Burns plates up heartbreak and spine-tingling theatre on her album The Dangerous Harpist. The solitary week the record took to create proves a fertile process for the Belfast performer. After the woozy spirit of opener 'Wifi Lullaby' flies into the ether, a riff of beauty and barbarism becomes the potent theme on the album. 'Comedian' and '365 Random Days' flirt with violence as clattering and rollicking drums quarrel beside Burns's dreamy, honeyed laments. 'Strange Clouds' seduces us with coy harp tickles beneath an ominous Zeppelin of grunge guitars. 'Heartbreak Was Heartbreak' is the sound of an intense affair.

The remainder of the album is mostly notable for Jeanette’s impressive vocal acrobatics, and the band always impresses. This album showcases immense potential for this Derry quartet.

It wouldn't be an Irish album without some storytelling and the band include a few well-placed covers, such as the jaunting 'The Bonny Ship’, ‘The Diamond', a nostalgic take on 'Farewell to Carlingford' and a forlorn, a cappella version of 'Wexford Town'. All are sung by the female vocalist/violinist in the ‘vivid’ way which is the meaning of Beoga. I won’t change my mind - a perfect album for a glass of the black stuff with friends.

What we're offered here is an act of ventriloquism. Burns plays acerbic ex-girlfriends, bedraggled performers and nostalgic oracles. There are echoes of PJ Harvey, Dresden Dolls and Kate Bush amidst this mini musical. The drunk, Bluegrass twang of 'Crying In The Portaloo' swings into the graceful serenade of 'Mechanical Toys'. It is a haunting effort wrestling with an eclectic and at times elegiac collection.

Gerard Walton

Neryse Coleman

James-Alexender Johnson

‘Turn Me Over’ is a brilliant jangly tale of that universal longing for love. ‘Mojito’ follows a similar lyrical path, over an almost Aerosmith-esque re-imagining of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts'. ‘Muse’ is a genuinely fierce rocker, which recalls the early work from the band of the same name. What remains is well-constructed blues-rock tracks but they are somewhat blunted by the sheer force of what came before. ‘Outta My Head’ shows the formula starting to wane, before the sweetly affecting ‘Loved That Man’, a tale of a late granddaddy.


OUTLINERS EXHIBITION JULY @ STUDIO E11EVEN Belfast. STUDIO E11EVEN. Six Artists. Six universes. Welcome to the Outliners Exhibition. eclectic event. This time, six artists from Belfast have exhibited their work around the title ‘Outliners’.


rom the first step you take into the gallery, you are immersed in the artists’ universes. You enter in a little corridor before the main room, and here Aaron Hughes’s work attracts you at first sight. Little squares in which famous soul singers are smiling at you, such as Ray Charles, or a Nina Simone completely turning her head away from you. The realism of those drawings leaves you completely speechless. Aaron Hughes only uses ball point pen to work; here it’s in black and white, like old photographs, as if those legends had posed for Hughes. You stroll in the gallery with your glass of wine, and between some wonderful chats with Tony or one of the artists you enjoy the allure and enticement of the art.

Andrew Train’s works are now facing you. Pale colours and Van Gogh-inspired spirals are the trademark of his paintings. You can also notice the tattoo influence, as Andrew worked in the tattoo industry. Despite the use of bright colours, the subjects are dark, like Vanitas painting with a skull and a fox’s head on a black background. Geometric shapes, animal and humans heads, life is painted as a still life, but a lively one. This is Andrew’s signature.


(top) Billy Rad • (middle) Daniel Berry • (bottom) Petra Dominová

Just beside his work, we discover Billy Rad’s ones. Four paintings using geometrical shapes, lines, vanishing points and even a kind of Warhol screen process printing. Those graphic works of art are full of bright colours that definitely grab the eye. They are oils on canvas and deal with colour resonance, which can be seen in the stripes of colours converging in one point, maybe the source of a sound. Rad says that those works deal with the experience of the moment. His work uses forms in addition to colour, for example, the diamond-shaped work entitled ‘Collide’, but the form is secondary. Cross the gallery to gaze closer at some curious animals looking at you. A pterodactyl dinosaur or a triceratops in suits, staring at you as if this was you, the animal. The aqua colours are really detailed portraits. The Doctor Frankenstein behind those creatures, Daniel Berry, intended to link the present with the past by painting those dinosaurs. He previously worked on topics such as humanity, identity, borders … something that completely influenced the work in front of us. Now, as we talked about the universe, this is the word for Petra Dominova’s work. This student in fine arts at Ulster University, originally from the Czech Republic, exhibited six paintings; all are very detailed, almost psychedelic with all the colours, a very sensible work, like the artist. When you look at them, you can notice anatomical influences, and even some African inspired patterns. The artist describes her work as personal but universal; at the same time, she is inspired by motherhood, nature, relationships, feelings and subconscious. Her characters are connected in a new, living-in-a-kind-of wonderland with flourishing nature. The viewer can see many things in those paintings. Let yourself get carried away. Talking about nature, Mick Ferrin’s work is a very good example of the use of it. Actually, when you are looking carefully at his chimpanzee hiding behind leaves or at a tiger, you understand that this artist is focused on realism. The very precise detail of those colourful animals’ portraits make them lively, almost going out of the frame. This work is so realistic that you can feel the sensibility of the animals in their bright, intense eyes. Deep. You arrive at the DJ corner in the gallery, now you can sit on the sofa, meeting interesting people talking about those talented Belfast ‘outliners’ for whom it’s just the beginning of a long career.

By Lilia Lalaoui (top) Aaron Hughes • (middle) Andrew Train • (bottom) Mick Ferrin 43









ummertime, and the livin's easy … right, rockers? I hope the 'just ok nothing really exciting it's better on the mainland' weather hasn't put a dampener on your rock and roll spirits! Not to worry, there's plenty of gigs over the next few months to keep you safely indoors – or the likes of Sunflowerfest and Belsonic if your prefer your music al fresco! Here's the listings for the next two months.

AUGUST 04 Thursday • Pigsaspeople (one last time) w/7.5 Tonnes of Beard, • Bosco Ramos & No Great Loss – Limelight 2

05 Friday • Voodoom: feat. Nomadic Rituals, Elder Druid, Molarbear, Korvid, Maw & Goatschlager – Voodoo, Belfast

05 Friday to 07 Sunday SUNFLOWERFEST feat. The Strypes, The Emerald Armada, Pocket Billiards, Trucker Diablo, The Crawling, The Crossfire Hurricanes, Henry Cluney, The Hardchargers, Lo Mejor, Loris, Nasa Assassin, R51 and more – Tubby's Farm, Hillsborough

Pigsaspeople Tonnes of Beard

10 Wednesday • The Slackers w/Aggressors BC & Boss Sound Manifesto – Voodoo, Belfast

12 Friday • Seventh Son w/Thieves of Ennui – Voodoo, Belfast

7.5 Tonnes of Beard

12 Friday to 14 Sunday STENDHAL FESTIVAL feat. Therapy?, Hayseed Dixie, The Bonnevilles, Pat McManus, Emerald Armada, Woodburning Savages and more – Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady

13 Saturday

Gasoline Outlaws

• Mentalitia (Metallica tribute band) – Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill • Gasoline Outlaws w/Search Party – Limelight 2

14 Sunday

Cursed Sun

• Mastodon w/The Raven Age & Harvester – Limelight 1

17 Wednesday •White Denim w/Wyvern Lingo – Limelight 2

18 Thursday to 27 Saturday


BELSONIC: feat. Madness (20th), Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds w/Catfish and the Bottlemen & Pleasure Beach (23rd) and more – Titanic, Belfast

19 Friday •Safire 'Under My Skin' EP Launch w/Safire, Vultures, Rusty Taste of Sweetness & S.L.U.T.S – McHugh's Bar, Belfast 44



20 Saturday THE GASCAN RUCKUS SUMMER BBQ feat. Empty Lungs, Beauty Sleep, Anna's Anchor, Hot Cops, brand new friend, Brash Isaac, Goldie Fawn, Life Goals, MYLK, Fox Jaw, No Oil Paintings, The Wood Burning Savages and more – QUB Speakeasy •Overoth w/Cursed Sun & Wardomised – Limelight 2

20 Saturday to 21 Sunday • Keep the Faith Festival in association with the Colin 'Riot' McQuillan Foundation – Voodoo, Belfast Molarbear

24 Wednesday •Airbourne w/The Treatment & Trucker Diablo – Limelight 2

27 Saturday • Maverick 'Big Red' Album Launch w/Stereo Nasty – Limelight 1


02 Friday • Chop Suey and Killswitch UK – Voodoo, Belfast

Trucker Diablo

03 Saturday • Chariot w/Terminus – Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill

04 Sunday • Squeeze w/guests – Ulster Hall


05 Monday • Radio Ulster's 'Across the Line' 30th Anniversary • Celebration feat. Therapy?, SOAK, Villagers, Saint Sister, R51 and more – Ulster Hall

18 Sunday • Raging Speedhorn w/guests – Voodoo, Belfast



23 Friday • Diamond Head w/Terminus – Voodoo, Belfast

26 Monday • Against the Current w/letlive. & Breeder – Mandela Hall

Until next time, keep ‘er lit Rockers! Melanie Brehaut

Photography: Liam Kielt

As always, plenty to choose from; for a small city, Belfast and beyond sure does have an impressive array of rock, punk and metal gigs to attend to, not to mention an equally impressive list of overseas artists wanting to visit these shores. From sneering along with Noel Gallagher at Belsonic to catching some real atmospheric death metal with The Crawling at Sunflowerfest, from NWOBHM legends Diamond Head in Voodoo to newbies Against the Current in Mandela Hall, you could almost throw a stick from anywhere in Belfast and hit a great gig – and just wait and see what October and November have in store for you! Until then, keep 'er lit, rockers! \m/ \m/ 45


Stay True to Yourself • MA

IDEN CIT t T You ru

From Derry himself, Stephen has a knack of uncovering real talent and he has paved the way for independent musicians to be noticed by the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 1, most recently, Soak and Ryan Vail. “Ryan Vail has had an amazing year releasing his album For Every Silence. I think it’s a great testament to how we approach music. He’s played a very long game. He’s got it exactly the way he wanted it, and when he released it he knocked everyone sideways.” For over 10 years Stephen has been an incredibly influential supporter of homegrown music.. Who is currently on his radar? “I’m really excited about the young wave of bands we are seeing coming through. Bands like Lost Avenue, and Making Monsters have put out a great EP which I think is a game changer for them. A couple of really interesting producers floating about too”.

Stephen’s thoughts on Ones To Watch include:



“The Undertones demonstrated in Derry that you can go straight to the top.” says BBC Radio Foyle/Ulster presenter Stephen McCauley. “I think that you can actually trace the musical heritage of Derry back to the Feis and the influence of traditional music in Donegal. Everybody did the Feis. I did it, The Undertones did it. You could do poetry, Irish dancing, singing everybody seemed to do it.”


lf rse



erry-Londonderry has a long running history of musical success. The likes of Phil Coulter, The Undertones, Gay McIntyre and Eurovision winner Dana. Derry born and bred, they have contributed to putting the city on the musical map.

THE WOOD BURNING SAVAGES: “A band who never fail to amaze me on record and live. The best live band I’ve seen in years! Firebrand punk rock heroes with something to say – bands like that are few and far between these days.”

PORTS: “Really excited about PORTS’ debut album. It took me by surprise. I thought I knew all the PORTS tunes until I heard the album and there were about four or five that I’d never heard which were absolutely astonishing.” STRENGTH: “Strength are fantastic. An absolutely incredible band, genuinely original. I feel as if they are out there, cutting through fresh snow. I feel when I listen to their music that I haven’t heard it before; it’s not taking me anywhere else. It’s not taking me to another touchstone. The way that they perform live is just unbelievable. It feels for me that they perform as one unit, really and truly one person nearly. Hopefully we’ll see an album in not too distant future.” WAKE AMERICA: “Wake America arrived fully formed with an intoxicating sound that seems to sit somewhere between the German tech-house of Moderat and indie guitar swagger, yet more effortlessly infectious sound from Eoin O’Callaghan!” TOUTS: “Touts I’m very excited about. Their lead singer has something you can’t learn. You either have it or you don’t; he has it, that rock and roll spark. If you don’t have it, you will never be able to find it, but he has it. High hopes for Touts and also high hopes for some of the bands around them like The Docs - really exciting doing great punk music.”

“I could rhyme off names ‘til I’m blue in the face but I would end up leaving somebody out!” Acknowledging the local community recognition and motivation for emerging music in the City, he affirms: “I’m genuinely very excited about Derry now. I’ve seen a couple of lulls while doing Electric Mainline, then a couple of big rushes and I think we’re heading back up to that. And the reason for that is because so many young people are pushing through with incredible music. There’s quite a lot to support them. The Sync Project in the Nerve Centre, great work happening in NorthWest Regional College for bands as well. There’s a lot of mentors around the town; bands are getting to watch Soak doing well and Ryan Vail, and think ‘Well, I can do that’.” Stephen has an instinct on what makes good music, and his advice for up and coming musicians is, “Work out what your definition of success is; if you want to achieve fame and money, that’s a straightforward path. ... If you want to get into music and want it to be about art and expression then what you’ve gotta do is try to find your voice.” Then, Listen and Love. “First and foremost enjoy it. Always retain a love of music. Don't just be a player of music, be a listener of music. The best bands are music fans - simple as that. ... Listen to music you think you hate. That’s very important. I learnt that as I went along, I thought I hated certain forms of music, listened to it and fell in love. It shapes how you perceive music.” Explore Other Arts. “Go outside of music, go into film, books, visual art, all of that has a seismic importance when you’re finding your voice. It’s not just music; it has to be the rest of the world.” Be Yourself. “Stay true to yourself. Anybody can copy but there’s only one you. Nobody can effectively be you. Get your own voice out there. If you’re not hearing the music you want to hear, make it! Because be assured that other people will want to hear it too.” And finally… Keep Going. “Passion and vocation is very key. You have to be your own engine. If you’re not motivated, nobody else is going to do it for you. When it seems to be going bad, you keep going. Because you are never, ever tested when it’s going good; your mettle is tested when it’s going really bad. That’s when it decides whether you’re going to work or not.” Stephen presents Electric Mainline on BBC Radio Foyle every Thursday from 7pm, and Soundscapes with Stephen McCauley on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle every Wednesday from 10pm. Listen in to hear some of the best music from across Northern Ireland and across the globe. Who knows, you may even hear your own song! By Stacy Fitzpatrick All shows are available to listen again to via iPlayer:


Reasons N


ever doubt the importance of holding a vision and allowing other people and resources to coalesce around it,’ said a friend after our spectacularly successful first attempt at a Big Lunch back in 2013. This joyous occasion, a collaboration between Belfast Friendship Club (BFC), City Church and Common Grounds Café, attracted a diverse audience of 250+ from Belfast and beyond who enjoyed home-cooked international dishes served by a cheerful band of volunteers waiting the tables. The picture captures something of the atmosphere on the day.

individuals and organisations just waiting to be tapped. Find a suitable outlet, motivated by the right values, and you suddenly have a huge resource at your disposal that enables visions to be realised. It’s very humbling.

More recently, the vision for a WelcomeFest world music event was born as a first attempt to put Refugee Week on the map with an inclusive event in the city centre. Yet again, people and resources coalesced at an astonishing rate, but perhaps I shouldn’t be astonished; good will and generosity exist in huge numbers of

WelcomeFest brought together a vibrant mixture of songs, dance, beatbox, percussion and circus from a diverse range of artists, all of whom performed free of charge. Added to this was a range of free activities for children and refreshments for our audience of 400+. In a subsequent article, the Cathedral later described WelcomeFest as a ‘fantastic celebration of Refugee Week.’

Co-created by Red Cross NI, BFC and the NI Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS), it was graciously hosted by Belfast Cathedral where the Dean and staff of St. Anne’s could hardly have been more accommodating. They trusted us to deliver an experience that would have been an unknown quantity at the planning stages.

I think we’ve (all) started something!








Belfast-based songwriter Anthony Toner is working on a new collection of songs for release in early 2017. It will be his eighth album, supported by dates across Northern Ireland and Scotland, where he has recently been building a new audience with songs like 'Sailortown'', 'Well Well Well' and 'The Road to Fivemiletown'.

Belfast born songwriter, musician and comedian wrote her first song, 'I have been long enough with you’ for her parents at the age of three. A performer all her life, with her first album on Freerange Records, Ursula was nominated for the Best Female in the Hot Press Awards and went on to make five self penned, self released albums.

He is playing a variety of solo and 'in the round' shows this autumn throughout Northern Ireland as well as appearing as special guest of folk legend Barbara Dickson on her Irish tour in November.

She has toured extensively in Ireland, UK, Scandinavia, Europe, America and Australia with her music and has played with artists such as Loudon Wainwright III, Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg, Beth Orton, The Blue Nile, Richard Thompson, Jimmy Nail and many more. Twitter @tonersongs.

Ursula won the 2012/13 Irish Musical Comedy Awards and was nominated for the prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality in Edinburgh. Ursula’s latest album, The Dangerous Harpist was released 04 May 2016.

Gallery Bar, Enniskillen 06 August Willowfield Church, Belfast 10 August Town Hall, Bangor 06 October Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey 08 October Sunflower Bar, Belfast 27 October Sunflower Fest 05-07 August Edinburgh Fringe Festival 16-18 August



When I entered in the small Belfast Exposed Gallery I didn't suspect that this is in fact the principal gallery of photography in Northern Ireland. Ciara Hickey, the curator, explains, “Belfast Exposed has been a central arts organisation and community in the city of Belfast since the 80’s”. As curator, Ciara programmes the exhibitions in the contemporary gallery and the Belfast Exposed Futures Gallery.

Founded in 1983 by a group of local photographers, Belfast Exposed is a place full of interest. There are two galleries, a community photography archive, a bookshop which offers an interesting choice of self-published and locally produced books, a reading room, a studio and darkroom for a wide range of photography courses and workshops. Belfast Exposed is the product of Danny Burke, a local teacher and trade unionist, who decided to launch an exhibition entitled ‘Belfast Exposed’ in 1983. The aim was to share the work of local amateur photographers and to show the city of Belfast from the inside. In fact, Belfast was seen largely through the eyes of the working class. 50

The group became famous but always respected its ethos of being composed of different political backgrounds and by organising their exhibitions in neutral areas of Belfast. In 2003, the Belfast Exposed team moved to the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, bringing with them their desire to collaborate with diverse communities from Northern Ireland and provide the tools they need to build up photography projects. The gallery is open to everyone, and they have a large team of volunteers, many of whom are from the University of Ulster Photography Department.

In 2015, the Belfast Exposed Futures Programme was launched. “The Futures Programme was created to provide early career local photographers the opportunity to develop and exhibit new work and most importantly be seen elsewhere, creating an international presence for Northern Ireland photography. As a result, Belfast Exposed has brought local photographers to an international stage in various festivals, such as Paris Photo, Photo London or Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam”. Concerning European partnerships, Belfast Exposed has connections with the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art and the Gallery of Photography Dublin, for related projects. Ciara added, “The gallery moved towards international perspectives but doesn’t forget its roots by being engaged socially and politically”. As a record of the rich past and history of the gallery and, of course, of the city of Belfast, the gallery houses an archive and resource room where you can find old journals or titles and publications about previous exhibitions. The community image archive, which contains 500,000 images, can be consulted in the reading room as well. Ciara said, “Belfast Exposed offers vast training schemes for young people across Northern Ireland and collaborates with local and international photographers”. The gallery buzzes with many events around the exhibitions, such as talks, film screenings, and master classes. The exhibitions are prolific. Ciara discussed forthcoming activities. “I’m excited about the next exhibition coming in our Contemporary Gallery, the Jerwood/Photo-works Awards. Three artists, Matthew Finn, Joanna Piotrowska and Tereza Zelenkova, look at relationships and family, body language and communication and folklore through photography. The exhibition will take place from 5 August to 1 October 2016”. Belfast Exposed continues to expand its Futures Programme with more international festivals, galleries and institutions in the coming year. Belfast Exposed is the kind of unusual and interesting place you can find in the city, a lively spot with strong values, turned towards the future.

Lilia Lalaoui 51


Strength Northern Ireland Yes

Brigid O’Neill Don’t Make Me Go To Town

They’ve all had a go. Cranberries with their tanks and their bombs, U2 and their sugar-free Sunday Bloody Sundaes, yet since the Stiffs and their behemoth ‘Alternative Ulster’, there’s yet to be a band born, soda-bread and buttered from here to say something positive about Norn Iron. Well, ‘give the ball back mister’, I think we have contenders. Strength deliver a dance-floor-filler. ‘At long last’ says I, and you will too if you give Strength’s latest single, ‘Northern Ireland Yes’ three minutes and 10 seconds of your precious time.

Having recently returned from playing the Bluebird Cafe, Music City Roots Show, and a series of other high profile gigs in Nashville Tennessee, Co. Down singer-songwriter Brigid O’Neill has been riding the crest of a wave. With the release of her new single ‘Don’t Make Me Go to Town’, more acclaim shall follow.

First, repetitive bass-line, always a good start/middle and theme to a tune; second, they don’t aim for the pity vote; the Belfast child does not sing tonight, or any other night. ‘We’re from Northern Ireland’, repeats as one of the mantras … the video for the tune brings Flaming Lips’ flippancy from a generation of musicians who can’t possibly have thrown their vote in 1998; thirdly, to paraphrase their blurb, “Northern Ireland has always felt like a title that belonged to our fathers’ generation; escapism was the language of our generation, but these days we’re more into realism.” And so they deliver a new view, afforded only to those who can bring a perfectly nuanced, unadulterated, some might say, naïve approach to our appreciation of high-wired electronic pop. They mix cooperative heavy-as-a-halo beats and organ driven sincerity with an apolitical song so full of the inbred cynicism and over the shoulder hope that can only come from these shores. Jumbling through rubbish tips both aurally and visually, they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Best Northern Irish band I’ve heard in ages.

Conor O’Neill

Ah, this is smokin’. All schmaltz and serious-faced rumba, Brigid O’Neill’s new single ‘Don’t Make Me Go To Town’ has the narrator pleading to be left alone, seemingly with a heart crushed to fiery Latin standards. “Don’t make me go to town/I’d have to put on clothes/ put powder on my nose …” This is a song to be performed in black and white, in front of a seated audience drinking cocktails. I fully expect O’Neill to break down half way through the performance, her soul too shattered by the duplicity of it all. Even the artwork beckons Ranchera sirens with its sepia closed-eye profile, and clouded marble imagery. It opens with wooden chirping percussion supplied by co-producer Michael Mormecha who also supplies appropriately muggy drums and lighter backing vocals. That percussion kicks against clarinet – an instrument of long lonely note used by pre-war Latino kings like Xavier Cugat, and this time is the weapon of choice for Andrew Thompson. John McGurgan’s guitar gently fills up the melody but only really comes to notice at the end of a verse or the song itself, to help emphasise a point or a feeling. Meanwhile, brother Joe McGurgan mines deeper for the rhythm with his double bass – backing Mormecha’s percussion, keeping it all solid. This single will make Brigid go to more towns than Nashville - have a listen.

Cara Gibney



eturning to The Black Box on Wednesday 17 August is the wonderful and ever different Wonder Frog. Wonder Frog is the monthly comedic act and their performance is guaranteed to be sui generis as they improvise using topics suggested only by audience members.

By September summer has ended and it is back to school again. To coincide with the educational term recommencing, “Stand Up For Integrated Education” will be taking place in the Ulster Hall on Saturday 10 September. Mentalist David Meade will be joined by such acts as Tim McGarry, Colin Murphy and Wendy Wason as a mixture of mind-reading, satire and pure silliness is sure to make the audience integrate into giggles. All proceeds will go towards the promotion and development of integrated education in Northern Ireland.

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In the Ulster Hall the following Friday is Shane Todd in his new show ‘Holywood to Hollywood’. Holywood is a small town but seems to produce big stars, such as Rory McIlroy and Jamie Dornan, who keep on taking the attention off Shane. So in a bid to keep up with his neighbours, Shane ventures to the other Hollywood. Both by the sea and filled, perhaps, by botox-overdosers, they could hardly be more different. Shane delivers his new solo show direct from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on 16 September.

Adam Henry Magee



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For the tenth dazzling year in succession the great big beautiful world is set to descend on Belfast’s Botanic Gardens as the city revels in the annual Belfast Mela. To mark ten years of celebrating shared cultures, there will be an entertainment bonus this year, with the addition of two performances under canvas of the Indian classic tale, ‘The Phantom Queen’ on Saturday 27 August. A special ‘Voices Of Mela’ photographic and film exhibition will also be staged at The Ulster Museum, capturing ten years of Mela moments, uncovering some of the stories of Northern Ireland’s ethnic communities, and exploring the significance of Mela within Northern Ireland’s cultural landscape.

Reflecting on a decade of celebrating diversity, Nisha Tandon, founder and Executive Director of pioneering ethnic arts organisation, said, “Ten years ago ArtsEkta’s founding members had a creative vision for staging the most inclusive festival that Northern Ireland had ever seen. We were delighted back then to attract an audience of 3,000 people, but that was only the beginning. Northern Ireland has truly taken Mela to its heart and in our ten year history around a quarter of a million people have enjoyed the unique Belfast Mela experience”. The main Mela celebration will get off to a colourful start with the arrival of its now traditional cheerfully noisy, musical carnival parade, winding its way around Botanic Gardens to arrive at the main Mela stage. A packed bill of music, dance, arts and performance will entertain the crowds gathered on a lawn edged by stands offering everything from henna hand painting to ethnic retail. Amongst the world music acts featured on the main stage will be Raghu Dixit, hailed as India’s biggest cultural and music export; the high energy Zulu Tradition; Balkan Alien Sound, blending gypsy, Klezmer and Balkan music and dance; Andalucian and Latin American music from Los Dramaticos; the Balkan-to-Brooklyn brass band blast of the Riot Jazz Band plus the home grown talents of folk band Connla and the South Asian Dance Academy. 54

The World Music & Dance Showcase will also feature the Roskina Choir providing a Russian choral tradition; Chemsir taking to the stage with Bulgarian dance and the Philippines United Support Organisation giving a taste of traditional Filipino village style performances in different areas of the Gardens. The Belfast-based band Magware will provide a unique blend of African colour and European cool, while Dhol Belfast, Ireland’s first professional dhol drumming band will beat out the mega rhythms of India. Creative inspiration for all ages will include Little Bollywood, an exciting sensory experience designed for families with babies, toddlers and young children, and the magical Fantasy Forest experience. Tucked away amidst the tropical planting in Botanic Gardens the Fantasy Forest will feature international street theatre, music and dance, Fantastical Creatures all the way from Mexico plus nature-inspired workshops from Eastern Europe, India, China, Japan, India and Russia. The zone will even have its own story-telling tree where families can gather to hear traditional stories from around the world. Global gastronomy will waft luscious aromas around the park as international chefs combine their talents and culinary heritage with great local produce, as Belfast Mela pays tribute to Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016. From ‘A Night in Rajasthan’ tandoori barbeque experience and the World Food Market to Live Cookery Theatre to the specially-curated Artisan Market showcasing what’s fresh and new from dynamic local food producers …. cooking doesn’t get much better than this! For full details on the world class line up at Belfast Mela 2016 go to


HOME EDUCATI ON Because not every child is school-shaped Paul McAvoy


cross Northern Ireland there are families who choose not to send their kids to school. A common misunderstanding is that school is compulsory; in fact, it is the parents’ legal duty to provide an education for their kids, and they can choose to outsource this to schools, most of which do an outstanding job. Families choose home education for a wide range of reasons - some not out of preference, but because school was not a good fit for their children and there’s little in the way of alternatives - some for the freedom it affords, not subscribing to school timetables and requirements - some because they think it’s the best option for their children. Since we get only one shot at raising our kids, every parent wants to do what they perceive to be best for theirs. Home educators don’t need to follow any set curriculum; rather, they are required to provide a suitable full-time education for their children and within that non-specific definition sits whatever educational model and method that best fits each unique child. And therein lies the beauty of home education. It can be tailored to meet the strengths and interests of the individual in a way that the classroom setting cannot. Most kids enjoy school, most of the time, but for those who don’t fit the model, school can be boring at best, and an experience in failure at worst. Almost all schools and teachers do an admirable job in a challenging environment, but there are unquestionably instances where a child is not best-served by being at school.


Academics and University Echoes Some believe there is too much emphasis put on Ballynafeigh Community Development Association: academics a very young age in our schools, that 20 March,at2pm-4pm children a lot more time to play with to letPaula theirMatthews brains A sharedneed reading workshop for women Free Admission rest and decompress during the school day, that there is too much homework and not enough freedom to Verbal Arts with Rosie Pelan invest time in Workshop what matters most to the child. It is also Cresent Arts Centre: 20 March, 11am-1pm thought that there is too much testing, and things like Practical acting workshop focused on one of the most exciting and segregated linestoofemerge boys and girls, compulsory uniform, original voices in modern Irish theatre, Marina Carr. yrs,curriculum £16/£14 Admission a16+ rigid and time spent sitting at a desk waiting for the school bell are mechanisms to teach children to conform and refrain from questioning Mark Thomas: Book Reading and Swearing authority. for EqualConformity Marriage can be a good thing, to equip our children to into23the community as they grow into The Black fit Box: March, 12.45pm-2pm adults, but might it be betterand to author let children thrive The activist, political satirist is doing his bitand to support the campaign for Equal Marriage in Northern Ireland. invest themselves deeply and creatively into whatever £10/£7 Admission subject lights their fire?

Linen Hall Library Reading Group - The is Singing, Now more than ever, there are countless free Grass resources Doris Lessing. on the internet where an invested young person can Linen Hall Library: 31 March study in-depth any subject in which they are interested, Meets on the last Thursday of the month at 1.10pm to discuss and access is wide-open to universities. Home educated chosen books. children often produce projects which demonstrate Free Admission thorough knowledge of their subject, and universities Alternative and Jazz are interested Words: and openPoetry to assessing this Soul work Night as part of Voodoo: 31 March, 9pm their acceptance criteria. Important exams, such as Featuring poets Colin Hassard and Jason Ashford, and DJS CRT GCSEs, are accessible through several routes to Home and Pete Brady. Educating families, although this is an area which is £5 Admission still in development. Literary Lunchtimes - Shakespeare and Music with How do home Samantha Lin educated children turn out? Ulster Hall: 13 April, 1pm A slightly higher percentage of home educated children This Literary Lunchtime discusses several Shakespearean passages goabout on music to attend university than thosehave, who attend and explores how composers in turn, responded to Shakespeare`s plays .proportion go on to work in school, and a higher Free Admission creative industries. Statistics only tell part of the story. Ultimately the choice to home educate is usually Literary Lunchtimes simply about what each family thinks is best for their Ulster Hall: 27 April, 1pm children. It’s a different approach the challenge of Danielle McLaughlin and Jan Carsonto in conversation raising kids, one that aims to develop the whole person, £5 Admission to enable them to explore a broader variety of learning opportunities and to be ready for adulthood. Across Northern Ireland there are active groups who meet at all manner of indoor and outdoor activities, including drama, bushcraft, health, art, history and sports. Facebook is commonly the platform for arranging these meet-ups through several (closed) groups. These are opportunities to spend time with like-minded people and for kids to engage and build friendships. To learn more about home educating, begin your search.



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Glass Eye Cine Club Avant-Garde Cinema in Belfast


n the Belfast Barge, there were candles glowing on the tables, and in the dim-lit room they were lighting up the drinks that people had brought with them. Coffee and tea was on hand for those who weren’t partaking. The main film feature, Blank City, a documentary on the underground film and music scene of New York’s Lower East Side in the late 70s was just about to start, and any chatting slowly subsided. After the film, live footage was screened from bands that performed in the day like The Cramps, Lydia Lunch, Television, Patti Smith, The Ramones and Talking Heads, and this brought some people onto the dance floor. Rory McCadden, the man behind Glass Eye Cine Club was keeping an all-seeing eye on proceedings. “Glass Eye is a film club that screens art house and experimental short films, documentaries, and features,” he told me; however, the club wants to appeal to a wider audience and will be showing a mainstream film every couple of months, like Choke starring Sam Rockwell, Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence, or Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America. When Glass Eye recently relocated to the Barge, McCadden brought his right-hand man Gary Cosby along with


him. Cosby has long experience as a cinema projectionist and a deep knowledge of local cinema history, so when McCadden met him he knew he couldn’t let this mine of information pass. “He adds a local heritage element to the whole thing,” he explained. “With Gary’s collection of photos, stories and memorabilia, people can see it all for themselves at the screenings.” The Barge will be hosting Glass Eye events three or four times a month. The events however will consist of much more than solely viewing the wide programme of film that has been planned. The nights will also offer live performances and not solely of music. A large number of experimental films, particularly back in the day, were relatable to other disciplines such as poetry, literature, painting, or dance; so it makes sense that Glass Eye moves in that direction. “I want to create a space where we can blur the boundary between film and live performance, like live scores to silent films, dance, rehearsed readings, theatrical performance, or like the sound designer who has created his own soundscape and will be coming to present it to us in October.”

Cara Gibney

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