Winners of ‘Best Live Act’ at the 2019 NI Music Prize, Sister Ghost is the project of Co. Derry artist Shannon Delores O’Neill. Having a background playing in bands from the age of 12, the project began with Shannon writing and demoing in her attic – singing and playing everything herself – before enlisting the other ‘ghouls’ to bring Sister Ghost to completion.
Playing noisy, spectral art-rock with a pop & literary heart, O’Neill and the band marshal a diverse set of influences in a singular way – from the ‘Seattle sound’ to the likes of Sonic Youth, Veruca Salt, Patti Smith and Kate Bush.
Shannon has been recognised for mentoring and encouraging other female-identified musicians to perform in the Northern Irish scene, having also set up the Girls Rock! NI chapter in 2016. Sister Ghost has garnered high profile support slots with Shellac, Pussy Riot, Petrol Girls and Le Butcherettes, as well as airplay on BBC 6 Music and a Next Wave Artist slot on BBC Radio 1.
With a debut album in the works, recent singles ‘Fake Friends Run This Country’ and ‘Bruised Fruit’ have received favourable reviews in the likes of Hot Press magazine and The Guardian newspaper; equal parts emphatic and earworming, Sister Ghost’s new material is their most vital to date.
“An independent force; a defiant artist” CLASH Magazine
“One of the most gifted songwriters to come out of the North in a long, long time” Stephen McCauley, BBC Radio Ulster
“Like Joan Jett, Donita Sparks, and Joe Strummer rolled into one” Pure M Zine
“Tense yet hook filled, Sister Ghosts sound is a breath of fresh air on the garage/punk scene. A blistering meld of Sonic Youth meets Sleater-Kinney and that’s something to be very excited about.” The Last Mixed Tape
“With Sister Ghost you can hear echoes of Sonic Youth, early nineties discord stuff. It’s just classic indie rock with no mucking about.” Steven Rainey, BBC Radio Ulster
Combining a wintry longing with the warmth of a familiar folktale, Humbird stretches between experimental folk and environmental Americana to embrace the unexpected. This music invites a refreshing dissonance into the house, it leaves breadcrumbs along the path and reflects light back at the stars.
Hailing from Carryduff and Dundrum, Dea Matrona are a rock trio who formed in 2018, their mutual love of classic rock and bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, sparked a musical chemistry between the three that continues to blossom into their own originals.
Their infectious enthusiasm for churning out hard hitting guitar riffs and soaring harmonies has captured the hearts of audiences across Ireland, which has set the foundation for their extraordinary connection with their fans online with Facebook videos reaching over 560k views. They released a 4 track EP in April called ‘Away From The Tide’ and appeared on UTV Life with Pamela Ballentine to promote it.
They recently played a three day stint at The Cavern Club in Liverpool each to a packed out audience and have also put on headline shows in Whelan’s (Dublin) and in Black Box (Belfast) which sold out. They have played the main stage at Dalriada Festival, Harmony Live and Belfast’s Culture Night. They have supported acts such as Feeder, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Nathan Carter and played in The Waterfront Hall supporting Flash Harry. Don Felder (Eagle’s Guitarist) commented of the group ‘Pretty damn good girls, you got it!’ A video of the girls performing went viral on Twitter which received praise from Irish music legends Imelda May and Jim Corr (The Corrs) as well as boxers Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan
The band consists of sisters Mollie McGinn and Mamie McGinn as well as life long friend Orláith Forsythe. The youthful energy combined with their technical ability beyond their years is what continues to win over audiences and listeners across the country.
Over 7 million people have watched in awe as they saw Cam’s viral video on Facebook of him busking on the streets of London. Now he will tour the UK and Europe!
Hailed as “the most impressive one-man band you will ever see” by Unilad when they showcased him to their 44 million followers, Cam Cole is a singer, songwriter, busker and new age traveler from London, UK who roams around performing on streets and venues as his one man band show influenced by Folk, Delta Blues, Grunge and Rock N’ Roll. Check out the Instagram feed below to see what Cam is up to.
Growing up in Clonakilty you are surrounded by music.
Dukkha frontman Eoin O’Neill grew up with people who were genuinely passionate about music and that has always stayed with him. His older brother, uncles, and aunts would show him a variety of music from all different genres and eras, allowing him to appreciate music holistically.
He says that this holistic approach to music has been one of the major influences on his song writing. Another major influence was the discovery of his favourite band, The Doors, and other 1960s psychedelic bands like Jefferson Airplane and Love. Jim Morrison’s song writing showed him, more than anyone else had before, that lyrics can be a form of poetry. This idea blossomed with his growing interest with rap albums, especially concept albums that had particular themes. He was blown away by certain rappers ability to speak of situations in life completely alien to his own, yet was, because of their words, able to understand and empathise with them.
When singer songwriter and guitarist Eugene Brosnan moved back to Clonakilty in 2015, after an 18 year absence from the place he had called home in the ‘90s, he contacted bassist Martin Kingston and in their first conversation it was mooted that they might get a band together, mainly, as a vehicle for the songs of the late great American songwriter and composer, WARREN ZEVON, as they both share a love for his music.
They soon assembled a group of musicians, with equal enthusiasm for the INNOCENT BYSTANDER project and in the 18 months so far, they have played a number of full house gigs and a handful of festivals. The band has also extended their set to include some original songs that sit happily and snugly among the Headless Thomson Gunners, identity thieving Gorillas and the colours of Georgia O’ Keeffes…
“Caustic, inventive, insightful, and funny as fuck” – Golden Plec
”For me the best songwriter in the country at the moment is Jinx Lennon, and he matters. He matters to me. And we don‘t hear him because he’s telling the truth. He’s singing about this island we live in as it is, and he doesn’t get airplay. Why doesn’t he get airplay? …Because he’s telling the truth. And why can’t people deal with that truth?… Because it’s very raw, and he doesn’t sugar it up.” -Christy Moore
BOB CHRISTGAU, VILLAGE VOICE
Chances are you’ve never heard of Jinx Lennon. Even in Ireland he’s far from famous, and except for a 2015 house party I got to attend, his only NYC-area gigs came in 2005 via Lach, whose amorphously contrarian “antifolk” catchall suits Lennon as it does few others. Structurally, he’s a singer-songwriter, earning his musical pittance performing his own songs over acoustic guitar. But that not only undersells his hyperactive show and ignores his live beat gear and studio horns, it misrepresents the aggressiveness of half-rapped, power-strummed rants far less predictable and more propulsive than, for instance, the rote metrics of original “punk poet” John Cooper Clarke. It misses how irrepressibly Lennon shouts and how insistently he repeats linchpin phrases. And it evokes a limpid lyricism he almost never trucks with, although he knows full well that his sing-along choruses are what render him inspirational in the end. My favorite goes: “No need to feel that you are a toerag/You’re not a scumbag, yeah, you’re not a scumbag.” But there are many others, and he means them all.
Lennon lives in and sings about his hometown of Dundalk in Ireland’s northeast corner, which in more storied times spawned both Cuchulain and Saint Brigid. Since 2000 he’s recorded seven albums for his own label, christened Septic Tiger in a prophetic dig at the Celtic Tiger, as the credit bubble then “modernizing” the Irish economy was dubbed by the kind of fool he isn’t. But by 2000 he was already 36, an age when most DIY-ers conclude that their music is avocational if the business of living leaves them time to play out at all. Not Lennon–not exactly. The oldest child of a line worker turned homeless counselor and a holistic healer, Lennon did construction in London after leaving school. Almost always in bands, he spent 1985 in New York, where he worked in a uniform factory and at South Street Seaport while supporting a vinyl habit long on Velvets and Television bootlegs. Then it was Dundalk and the dole and several more bands culminating in the alt-pop Novena Babes, whose sole SoundCloud track is far tamer than the solo music he’d soon put together. Yet in 2000 he too took on a job–as a hospital porter manning the night shift one week so he’d be free to tour the next. Seventeen years later, the 52-year-old father of a nine-month-old is still a porter. And he still plays out when he can.
This unusual profile explains a lot about a body of work you can stream on Spotify and buy from Amazon, although he’ll do better if you patronize his Bandcamp page. The two new ones are the Clinic-backed Magic Bullets of Madness and the hour-long Past Pupil Stay Sane, driven by a full band sound with plenty of rudimentary beatmaking, frequent trumpet, and occasional “girl voice” from his wife, Sophie Coyle. They’re his first new music since 2010’sNational Cancer Strategy, which he now regards as “not enough fun” for reasons a listen to the gruesome revenge fantasy “Pink Scrunched Up Thing” will soon reveal. My own favorite is 2006’s Know Your Station Gouger Nation, which follows “Accept Yr. Hair Loss” with “Nigerians (Stop Going On About)” and precedes “You Are No Scumbag” with the spiritual “Forgive the Cnts” (“If you don’t forgive the cunts/You’ll never find the peace inside you want”) and the enraged “Rap-S-Scallions” (“Two kicks in the head for being old/Three kicks in the head for being weak”). But every one is worth hearing, and not merely because they’re so rooted in Dundalk, which for geographical reasons was more embroiled in the Troubles than most and has since suffered plenty of lower-case trouble under capitalism rampant.
Equipped with a memorable little tune, Past Pupil Stay Sane‘s “I Know My Town” isn’t a rap or rant. It’s fully a song, with plenty going on. Understandably, however, Lennon fans gravitate to its middle verse, which situates him artistically: “I know my town, I know my town/Me, I know every smell from sewer pipes to the chip shops to the bullshit I hear round me constantly.” “There’s good things and there’s bad things here,” he goes on. But though his lyrics adduce bits of local color that will add concreteness for any listener while only fully resonating with his Dundalk homies, I suspect he’d be writing similar songs in nearby Navan or Mullingar, because it’s the characters that make them extraordinary–the kind of working people country represents by shuttling hunks from the weight room to the roadhouse and folk music sentimentalizes when it remembers them at all. None of them are starving and none of them have enough money. More are good than bad, but none are saints and most are messed up–like the young woman with flavored latex on her bed table in “Next Slow Song You Hear May Leave You Pregnant” or the boring cousin in “Gobshyt in the House,” both old songs, or like the aged aunt serving a “sandwich that’s like insulation for six attics for 65 years” or the “10 O’Clock T Break Bollix” who puts co-workers down so the lads will like him but isn’t bollix enough to believe they do, both new ones. Of the four, only the gobshite is unsympathetic.
Except in the crucial sense that he understands class, Lennon is not a protest singer. Occasionally the rich will horn in for a few lines, but mostly Lennon means to warn the local good guys about the bad guys itching to fuck them up. His primary goal is to convince them that, as Past Pupil Stay Sane concludes, “Every Day Above Ground Is a Good Day” even so. No more than five-foot-six himself, Lennon gets heated about bullies, with a special animus for the rapscallion hards who kick heads for the fun of it, and has written more home-invasion songs than most people. These include “So Frightened,” the opener on his live debut album, which I found so frightening myself I assumed it was autobiographical until the part that explains it’s based on a newspaper account. When you stream it, pay attention to the spoken intro:
“Before I start off I just want to say something. I just want to say that if anyone around this town thinks I’m up here trying to take the piss out of people I just want to make sure, I just want to make sure that I am not about that at all. I’m about fucking uplifting people.”
There’s a revolution happening. And it’snot going to be quiet.
Conceived at Clonakilty International Guitar Festival 2018 and birthed just before the biggest annual celebration of women in West Cork, Nollaig na mBan for Ovacare, The Kates took Clonakilty by storm.
Liz Clark (gtr), Eve Clague (elec gtr), Mide Houlihan (drums), Roisin Kilgannon (keys) and Paula K O’Brien (bass) are all musicians/songwriters in their own right but banded together to shine a spotlight on what contributions women make in a male dominated industry.
The Kates only play songs performed or written by women. They celebrate women who have come before them, blazed a trail and rocked the system.