Category Archives: Nurse Ratched

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.


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.



Tales from ‘BelNash’ – Joe

Wednesday, 4th of March, 2015. ‘Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, ‘In The Round’ Concert. Starring Amanda St John with Jason Clarke, Kate Gilbertson and Pete Gardiner.

With barely a couple of hours sleep between us, Jane(my trusty wing woman) and I crawl onto the coach at Edinburgh Bus Station, armed with ample knitwear, packed lunches, headphones and adrenaline. We arrived to a sunny and buzzing Belfast, checked-in to our home for the next couple of days and after a few mugs of scalding tea in the garden and listening to some music, we walked five minutes around the corner to The Holiday Inn and from there our ‘BelNash’ really began.

We entered an already busy and bustling  ‘Olympic Room’, we were fortunate to grab a great table and to my delight Jane assumed the role of bar duty. I spied Amanda St John and Pete chatting and mingling their way through an eager crowd, Kate and Jason were likely doing the same thing but by now it was getting busier and my perfect view of the entire room and stage were being slightly compromised by the absolute success of a ‘full house’.

The ‘In The Round’ Concert format was much like that of a relay, each artist performing a song in turn. However for the purpose of writing, I have grouped and paired the songs of each musician collectively.

Jason Clarke, who with his eye-catching ‘Limited Edition, Taylor Mini Koa’ , was performing solo for the very first time, took the mic and opened the show with ‘Before he lays you down’. Lyrically heartbreaking, Jason’s voice and rhythm allowed for a regretful account of ‘the one who got away’ to be explained beautifully. Next was ‘Crossfire’ another strong song he had written during the night, leading us to  Jason’s final song ‘Ashes’, where he describes the wounds left on a broken heart, self preservation and not allowing himself to feel and fall again, like before. Both Jane and I enjoyed Jason and look forward to hearing these songs again when he gets them recorded.

Further further information, music, news, gig dates and upcoming releases visit Jason Clarke’s Facebook.

Jason Clarke at 'BelNash' Photo by Nurse Ratched

Jason Clarke at ‘BelNash’
Photo by Nurse Ratched

I’m no stranger to Amanda St John’s music and for quite some time I’ve wanted to see and hear her live. In perfect unison and with great chemistry, the extremely talented Dean Stevens accompanied on guitar and we witnessed something really special indeed.

This was a masterclass in many respects. Amanda St John looked stunning in her rouge dress, and before each song this classy bombshell connected with the entire audience. Her first song ‘Reach’ describes the sheer frustration of being in a relationship and wishing to go to the next level but the other half is frightened of his feelings and quite possibly a commitment-phobe. Amanda asked her fans recently on social media what they would like to hear at ‘BelNash’. To my utter delight ‘If I Should Fall‘ was chosen and as if that wasn’t enough, Amanda gave a really lovely personal and warm welcome to me for selecting it. Of course Jane was at the bar when this all happened and doesn’t believe a single word of it, but it did happen. This is my favourite song to date by Amanda, its soulful and sultry, crammed full of emotion, describing a desire to be with someone and they just simply don’t see/feel it as you do. The guy in front turned around and asked if it were me Amanda was singing about, I had major ‘beard blush’ at this point. The vocal range demonstrated here was nothing short of mind-blowing, with nowhere to hide and she didn’t need anywhere. This was an emotive show stopper, executed with passion and precision. Her final song of the evening ‘Big Strong Man‘  as a single is an upbeat swinging number but on this occasion was performed in a stripped back style, beautifully played on stage by DeanAmanda’s phenomenal talent and stage presence, combined with Dean’s wonderful acoustics,  resulted in a  fantastic performance in every aspect.

For further information on Amanda St John, music, news, gigs and new releases, visit her Facebook and Soundcloud.

Amanda St John at BelNash Photo by Nurse Ratched

Amanda St John at BelNash
Photo by Nurse Ratched

Kate Gilbertson was up next,  and immediately there was something intriguing about her which I couldn’t put my finger on. Originally from Perth, Australia, Kate already benefits from an international fan base and is popular on the live music scene in Toronto, Canada. Quietly confident and in a cute ginger lace dress, Kate approached with her guitar and began with ‘Sister’, Jane instantly connected to Kate’s voice and I swiftly followed. Kate went on to sing ‘Part Of Me’ which hasn’t been recorded yet, but guaging by the reaction it received I imagine it will feature on her new album. She concluded her set with ‘Home’, this song visits the highs and lows of travelling, missing home and how to find strength, comfort and resilience to create a home where ever she is, a song testament to her natural storytelling ability that can hold an audiences attention.

For more information on Kate Gilbertson, gigs and new releases, to listen and buy her music, visit her Facebook, Bandcamp and website.

Kate Gilbertson at BelNash Photo by Nurse Ratched

Kate Gilbertson at ‘BelNash’
Photo by Nurse Ratched

Pete Gardiner followed up next and was yet another highlight for me, having been following his music for some time. This guy has a unique songwriting talent and is already making a name for himself in the industry. After scoring a record deal with Paul Hardcastle’s record label ‘NUA’ and supporting Charlie Simpson on his tour, much of his time is now spent now on the London gig scene, making his debut album with Tommy McLaughlin from the Villagers. Pete’s singing style cropped up in conversation post gig with a few locals, one likening him to Lloyd Cole, which to some extent I can hear along with a whole lot more. In stylish double denim attire, a sleek, quiff topped Pete along with Justin Stewart also on guitar got straight to work opening with ‘James Dean’, a cautionary story on the long term psychological effects of drug abuse. The line ‘Jimmy never had a patch on me’ is still stuck in my head. His next song ‘Crime Scene’ is a favourite of mine, the title being a metaphor for when you have been stuck in a rut. It is by no means a miserable song, with a positive message in there reminding us not to return after we have made the effort to make a fresh start. ‘ Pete finished with ‘Hollywood Lights’, another poignant song,  about a girl desperately wanting to make something of her life, to make changes, who is really determined. It talks of the day after when she is dealing with a hangover, surrounded with the reality that makes her miserable, where she is less motivated, the vision has faded and again she is routinely defeated. Pete Gardiner will be making music for a very long time and this excites me.

For more information on Pete Gardiner, gigs and new releases, visit his Facebook.

Pete Gardiner at 'BelNash' Photo by Nurse Ratched

Pete Gardiner at ‘BelNash’
Photo by Nurse Ratched