Category Archives: Nanno

Tony Villiers and The Villains – Songs of love and Fate

Click image to visit tonyvilliers.com

Click image to visit tonyvilliers.com

Tony Villiers is one of my favourites from the local music scene. From Armagh in little old Northern Ireland  which is home to some of the best singer song writers past and present and Tony proves that there is still more to come. Songs of Love and Fate is his second album and it certainly packs one heck of a punch.

This album will put a smile on your face and transport you to the wilds of the Americas southern states. Tony’s influences of Bob Dylan and Jonny Cash both shine through. This by no way means Tony hasn’t got his own unique identity. He certainly has and I know we will see a lot more from him in the future.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is fantastic. You don’t just listen to Tony’s songs and hum along, instead you strain your neck trying to catch his every word as not to miss the story being told.

Rabid dog blues. I heard this song a few months past and it entertained me then as much as it still does now. “Rabid Dog hangin round my door. Well my mama went out and shot that dog, Rabid dog no more.

Rock Salt and Dear Mama are two heartbreakers however these are not songs to lie down and cry to, instead you want to to get up and dance.

Big Old Dancin Bear Blues. This track has that Johnny Cash influence and whisks you off to some dusty bar in Tennessee with cowboys spillin whisky and missing the odd punch as they crash down to the floor.

Lucky Rabbit Foot has Tony’s love of the blues throughout and Ramblin Man brings with it his trusty Hamonica. I’m a sucker for the Harmonic.

Now I thought this album was great when I first heard it but now it’s in the car, on the lap top, PC and on the Ipod for when out running along the shore. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s absolutely awesome. Don’t miss out on this one!

Available to download or in limited edition CD & Vinyl from tonyvilliers.com

Nanno.

Sea Legs – Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail

Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail ‘Sea Legs Album Launch’ Sat 18th April Aboard the SS Nomadic Belfast.

Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ryan Vail and Ciaran Lavery, Photo by Nurse Ratched

The venue for this launch was a location to be proud of aboard the SS Nomadic Belfast. This boat was commissioned by White Star Line to ship passengers onto the ill fated Titanic. It is the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world and has been restored to its former glory and is back home in Belfast’s historic Hamilton Dock under the shadow of the Titanic Museum. The boat is beautiful and the detail in all the decorative wood is divine. We took the opportunity and toured as much of the ship as we could even acting out the infamous ‘Im flying’ scene from the ‘movie’ even though it was the wrong boat. Below deck the chairs were laid out and subtle lighting displayed one single mic on the right and a whole array of keyboards and electrical equipment on the left.

Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ciaran Lavery, Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ciaran Lavery is a singer songwriter from the small village of Aghagallon. He began singing at fifteen and soon became the frontman for the band ‘Captain Kennedy’, playing with them for over seven years. Ciaran later went out on his own and has since created a well earned loyal following.

Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ryan Vail, Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ryan Vail is from Derry and is a talented ‘multi-tasker‘ who’s a techno geek, musician, DJ and electro artist. He puts together a drum machine with whispered vocals to soothing piano. Stemming from his love of drum and bass, hip hop, vinyl and synthesisers he puts them together and what he comes up with is mesmerising, fresh and truly beautiful sounds. Ryan has also turned his hand to producing, shared his talents with other artists and given their songs an unusual twist.

After meeting at a festival and chatting online together Ciaran and Ryan decided to write a song or two that I believe was influenced by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins. This quickly spiralled into what was to become the album ‘Sea Legs’. You normally wouldn’t put these two together but you only need to listen to this album once to realise it just makes sense.

The warm up act for the evening was the amazing Arborist otherwise known as Mark McCambridge. Up on deck I mistook him for Ciaran Lavery before the show but thankfully he was quite pleased.

Photo by Nurse Ratched

Arborist, Photo by Nurse Ratched

Ciaran and Ryan began the show with ‘Ebb’. This is both haunting and intriguing as you listen to ropes and poles clang together with the distant engine and fisherman’s talk of their time at sea. Ciaran’s guitar is then introduced in its magical simplicity accompanied by Ryan’s keyboard. Leading straight into ‘The Colour Blue’, which is a stunning song/tune that shows the mix of the two artists in their opposing genres. Or perhaps not so anymore as this album may prove.

‘The Sea at Night’. This is where Ciaran and Ryan let themselves go and embrace their musical talents. Out of their comfort zones the pair suck everyone into their worlds where they sometimes collide. I feel that this tune alone deserves full attention, set to repeat and a set of very good quality headphones.

‘The Shipping Forecast’ is of a sailor telling his story of loss and loneliness. “Its black and wet in my head. I smoke on the high deck at the place where my family set sail yesterday” This is a piece of genius that I wish there were more of but I guess that’s the intention. It pulls on your heart from everywhere. I believe the voice of the lonesome sailor may be that of James Patterson the poet.

‘Nick Caves Band’ gives you a piece of Ciaran all to yourself for a while. Then beautifully accompanied by Ryan’s piano and electric strings. Ciaran may be Northern Irelands answer to Ryan Adams. With the beat and the guitar followed by a harmonious and rhythmic repetitiveness, this number will stay with you long after its finished.Last and most certainly not least, ‘Ceol Na Mara’ features the voice of Technopeasant(Conor O’kane). A haunting poem of winds and scented salted sea air works its emotions into your soul.

This album is brilliant. You may not have thought that folk and techno were your thing well think again. This unusual combination works incredibly well together.  If you live by the sea as I do you will hear the familiar sounds of the water and its vessels. If you don’t you will certainly feel a closeness to the water and the haunting of the boats and perhaps find a new yearning for such things.

RC Sea legs Sleeve Art DIGITAL500x500

Follow the links to stream the entire “Sea Legs” album on Spotify and SoundCloud, you can purchase from iTunes and the vinyl/CD is available from Quiet Arch.

Nanno.

Gareth Dunlop – Eastside Sessions

Gareth Dunlop at the Eastside Sessions, Sunday 12th April, The Park Avenue Hotel, Belfast. This was a free event brought about by the East Side Arts, Belfast.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

We arrived at the event unwisely thinking “ah sure there will be plenty of seats, its Sunday”. Nope we were very wrong the place was full. We should have known judging by Gareth Dunlop’s local fan base which includes myself. I first saw Gareth play a small gig a few years ago in ‘Holywood Yacht Club’. Loved him from his first song. I was then lucky enough to see him play several times at our local open mic night, which I might add I have sung at a few times myself but certainly not at the standard of Gareth Dunlop. Every time he turned up “the craic was 90″.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth is now 28 but has been playing and performing from a young age. In 2011 he was awarded the ‘Belfast Nashville Young Songwriter of the Year’. Since then he has been a busy bee writing and performing. He has opened for Jeff Beck, Jools Holland, Nanci Griffith, Angus & Julia Stone, Paul Carrack, The Steeldrivers, Imelda May and more. Gareth’s songs have also been featured in numerous hit television series including “Cougar Town,” “One Tree Hill,” “Private Practice,” “Army Wives,“Life Unexpected,” and more.

Unfortunately due to our late arrival our seat wasn’t too good but a seat we had nonetheless which was luckier than others. Gareth expressed how honoured he was to be asked to perform at this gig and got stuck straight in. He is a professional and so you just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. After his first song and the rapturous applause he received, he expressed how 5 years previous he had played cover songs in this exact venue and no one clapped so the night was getting off to a fine start.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

The next song was “Find Your Way Back Home” accompanied by the talented John McCullough on keyboard. They have been playing together for nearly a decade. I have seen John play along side many other artists and he is something to behold and it is quite exciting to watch him at work. One of his next songs was written while travelling with Angus and Julia Stone. Its about missing home ‘Just Don’t Feel Like Home’. Just before a short break himself and John did a cover of ‘Walking in Memphis’ which went down a storm as usual.

After the break and I’m sure a couple of Guinness’s later he came back with one of my favourites ‘Trick of the Moonlight’ which was featured in the series ‘House’. This was then followed by ‘Fools Desire’.

Gareth Dunlop Photo by Nurse Ratched

Gareth Dunlop
Photo by Nurse Ratched

A few songs prior to this I was joined at my table by the infamous Terri Hooley. Terri likes to banter and in between each of Gareth’s songs he kept whispering lots of very entertaining stories to us and so I was unable to hear much of Gareth’s banter. Nonetheless it was a great gig and Gareth and John finished off with a cover of Paul Simon s “you can call me Al”.

Love love love him and good luck to him for the future certainly looks bright.

For further information, upcoming gigs, music store, videos and social media links, visit Gareth Dunlop’s website.

Nanno