Monday, 22 September 2014

Monday night!

MTV Crashes, Derry!

Earlier this summer I heard that 2014 MTV Crashes was going to be held at Ebrington Square in Derry. Hooray I thought. This will be an amazing weekend and surely Coldplay, Snow Patrol and the likes will be coming to Derry. Alas I was rather disappointed when I heard the confirmed line-up. At 40+ I didn't recognise ANY of the names. Oh dear! However as a 'reviewer' I was going to be there and judge for myself on the said weekend. During the build up to MTV Crashes I read many critical comments regarding the lack of real musicians coming to play MTV Crashes. I continually refrained from judgement until I saw for myself.
And boy did I see for myself. Unfortunately I came down with flu on the Friday morning and didn't get the beginning of the night's music. But after downing a lemsip at 7pm and putting on my thermals, I wandered over the Peace Bridge. Immediately I was mesmerised with all the young people walking alongside me on the bridge and their sheer excitement at the night ahead. Music was already underway and Neon Jungle were blasting from the stage. These kids were singing and cheering whilst en route to the gig. I walked along beside them smiling to myself. Oh to be so young and not feel the cold!! Here was I in my thermals, and these folk in their shorts and vest tops! The power of youth.
On my entry to Ebrington Square I was taken aback by the sheer atmosphere of elation amongst everyone. The crowd was definitely a young one, and everyone was just so happy and dancing along to the music. Food and drinks were being served on the perimeter of the square. A real buzz was felt at every corner!
By the time I caught up with the media gang it was time to go photograph Professor Green on stage. My son had told me I'd enjoy this set but having never heard of him, and seeing the average age of the crowd I doubted him. As I walked along the stage front and watched these young people await
Professor Green I was memorised. These kids were super excited and ready for more. As Professor Green took to the Derry stage the audience went wild. In a very good way. Whilst trying to get some good photos of the act, I was continually turning to watch this young audience enjoy themselves to the limit. Professor Green had Derry in the palm of his hands. And he was quickly acquiring my attention and respect also. When he and Tori Kelly sang 'Lullaby' I was hooked! I became one of the kids in the audience.
Afrojack came on stage after Professor Green and again enticed the Derry audience into some kind of crazy frenzy. Again I was taken aback by the music and the sheer ability of this act to engage with the audience at every turn. People were high on
emotion and music.
As I left Ebringon that night, Afrojack was still on stage. I walked through the crowd towards the Peace Bridge and felt enormous pride in the city as this was shaping up to be not only a huge weekend but a huge success for Derry!
By Saturday I was feeling weaker with my flu and was very unsure if I'd make the Crashes on the night. But again, I downed my lemsip, put on the thermals, and off I headed to the Club night at MTV Crashes, Again I knew NONE of the acts, and didn't expect to enjoy, but again I was surprised! This time I didn't warm to the music, but I did to the acts. At all times the DJ's never let the audience forget they were important. DJ Fresh, The MTV Club DJ's, Sigma and Chase & Status had their Derry audience enjoying every minute. The crowd were going wild.
Again I left before the final play, and strolled through the crowd. Everyone was dancing to the music. Certainly there was a few intoxicated souls, but isn't that to be expected. At no point did I witness any trouble or any sign of trouble.
Throughout the weekend there was numerous security staff and volunteers throughout Ebrington Square and its surrounds. There was always someone nearby if one needed assistance. Organisation was second to none.
I was very disappointed to read on a facebook page yesterday that there wasn't even a 'flyweight' act playing over the weekend. I thought there was no one big playing either, but having been there and experienced if first hand, I saw just how amazing a weekend MTV Crashes was in Derry. I saw how our young people enjoyed each and every act that played. I saw that it's possible to always reserve judgement until one sees for oneself exactly what's on offer. And this past weekend I did just that. My final judgement must surely be that MTV Crashes 2014 was a huge success in every way. Derry City just continues to put itself on the world music map. And this past weekend has just made it's place on that map a little bigger. Here's to many such weekends in Derry!

(A selection of photographs from both Friday and Saturday night are available to view on North West Culture facebook page.)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Donegal ÁBu!

Here's wishing Donegal the very best of luck today in both the minor and the senior All-Ireland cup finals at Croke Park. Here's hoping both cups, Tom and Sam, shall return to the hills...the hills of Donegal.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Culture Night at 'Little Acorns Bookstore' Derry!

Little Acorns Bookstore in Derry is hosting a typewriting event this coming Friday night, 19th September 2014, for Culture Night. 
Little Acorns invites all visitors on Culture Night 2014 in Derr to partake in a typewriting challenge by two of the 30 vintage typewriters in store by answering the question: 'What is the bet thing about Derry?'. There will be no delete buttons, tipex or erasers insight. There won't even be a 'spell check'! The finished results will be exhibited in Little Acorns after the weekend.
Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry) is also home to over 10,000 new and used books, the LegenDerr Writers' Chair and Theatre and Media Chair (with over 100 autographs to date). Such signatures boast luminaries Carol Ann Duffy, Melvyn Bragg, Jennifer Johnston, Stephen Rea, Jon Ronson, Oliver Jeffers and man more.
Little Acorns is possibly the smallest typewriter museum in Ireland with over 25 vintage typewriters on display ranging in colour, make, age and condition!
Do come along along to Little Acorns this Friday night and see for yourself and maybe even take part in the 'typewriting challenge'. It shall be fun!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Culture Night in Buncrana!

This coming Friday night, September 19th is Culture Night 2014. Throughout the country various venues are hosting a wide range of cultural events. Donegal is NO exception, and Buncrana has an Open Mic lined up in Rodden's Bar.
Performers are wanted for the night, so do go along and showcase your cultural talents. What better night to display them!
Everyone is welcome from 7pm. A great night is definitely in store.

Book Launch: Neal Carlin - They that wait on the Lord: An Uncharted Journey!

They that Wait on the Lord: An Uncharted Journey, by Neal Carlin, will be launched next Tuesday night, 23rd September 2014 @7.30pm in An Grianan Hotel, Burt, Co. Donegal. The book is published by The Columba Press and will be launched by Bishop Donal McKeown.

In They that Wait on the Lord , Fr Neal Carlin reflects on an eventful journey travelled in faith, that took him (Neal) to America and Mexico to experience emerging new communities and houses of prayer, and led to the foundation of the Columba Community in his home city in the midst of The Troubles. 

As the story of the Columba Community unfolds, the reader gets an insight into the person of Fr Neal Carlin, from the formation of his faith in childhood to his ordination to the priesthood, and his ever developing openness thereafter to being led by the Holy Spirit. 

Some reflections written by Fr Neal over the years have been included in the book, and gives us an insight into his love of nature and the Celtic soul, which sees God in all things. He seems to see the sacred and the hand of God in the ordinary. 

Celebrating fifty years in the priesthood, Fr Neal also shares his vision for the Church of the future and his hope that small basic communities, like the Columba Community, will “sprout up all over Ireland, like small springs to again irrigate this holy land of ancient saints and scholars”. 

Everyone is welcome next Tuesday night to the launch, so do come along and see for yourself just what to expect from this publication. Something tells me there's an interesting read ahead!

They that Wait on the Lord is published by The Columba Press priced €19.99/£16.99 Hardback.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

...but I Love you - book review!

...but I love you, is a novel by Sinead Gillespie, published in 2013 by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
I was given a review copy of this book a couple of weeks ago and immediately embarked upon the read. I'd just finished my holiday reads and was in need of a new challenge.
....but I love you certainly provided the challenge I needed!! The novel is a story of mixed messages, misread signs and the subtle conditionality of love. At first I was a little unsure where the story was going. I was a tad perplexed with the vivid lesbian sex descriptions. But I had to keep reading. And reading. And when the book ended I was disappointed....not with how it ended, but because I wanted it to go on!
The novel centres around Kate and Helena's lives, both before and after they meet and form a relationship. Kate escapes her Christian parents and after counselling she feels ready to go out into the world and experience 'the scene' of gay life! It is in fact her counsellor Helena that Kate fancies, but Helena is straight...isn't she?
After a chance meeting outside a nightclub the pair agree to meet again and Helena becomes baffled with her feelings. The next meeting leads to more.
Kate's parents blame Helena for making their daughter gay, and their Christian beliefs are scattered. Helena questions her identity and suffers prejudices which eventually cost her, her job.  Kate stands up to her parents and explains that she was indeed born this way and it has nothing to do with Helena's guidance or counselling. Helena encounters the worst possible fate with a man, and is forced to fight for her love with Kate. Fortunately the two win their fight, but they encounter so much more along the way.
Endearment, affirmation and loyalty or imposition manipulation and threat. Straight guys in a night club; dodgy ex's; smitten best mates; lesbian lovers. In a world of I love you's there is always a 'but'. Throughout this novel you will find many a 'but'. 'But' love triumphs in the end and many lessons are learned.
Throughout this read I was forced to question my own identity. Not so much myself but a general sense of how I view others. Do I really accept my gay friends for who they are? Do I allow my own Christian beliefs to shadow my judgements? Thankfully I was able to be honest and say that my gay friends are equal to my straight friends. Their sexuality doesn't threaten or trouble me. My Christian views tell me that it's right to accept people for who they are and I am not worthy to judge another on their sexual orientation. This book will challenge every reader to look at themselves and reassess how they judge people. It will challenge them to think seriously about their own persona.
Fortunately I believe very strongly in equal rights for everyone. However, not everyone agrees with me. And because of these prejudices which still exist many people are forced to hide their true selves or live a life of abuse from others, and experience many dire consequences.
...but I love you is an easily read book. It's an extremely well written book. It's a book one doesn't want to end. And most importantly it's a book with many messages and lessons.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Derry 'slides' for Cancer Research!

Over the past two days Shipquay Street in Derry has been turned into a giant water slide. All in the name of Cancer Research. Folk have been raising money over the past number of weeks and the 'slide on' was held this weekend. Hundreds of people have taken part in what has proved a fun filled weekend in Derry. Lots more photos are on the North West Culture facebook page. Do check them out. You just might be there!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

McGrory's of Culdaff gigs!

McGrory's of Culdaff in Donegal have some very exciting gigs lined up over the coming  months. That's just what Inishowen needs coming into the autumn and winter evenings. Some of these gigs are as follows:

October 11 - The Henry Girls 
November 22 - The Lost Brothers
November 29 - Jimmy McCarthy
December 30 - Cara Dillon 

Tickets for all the gigs are available at  t, or by ringing (+353) (0) 749379104.

These are four events NOT to be missed!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Me, Myself and I: Nik Kershaw!

As I was driving to Letterkenny last night the 15 year old me was exceptionally excited. This young teenager had been a huge Nik Kershaw fan and the bedroom wall was papered with his face. However the now 40+ something me was a tad more reluctant to get excited! I hadn't followed Nik for many years and didn't know much about his recent work. So in truth I was following the 15 year old's dream but was in reality a very hesitant 40+ last night.
On arrival at An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny I immediately noticed that almost everyone present was indeed from that 80's era. There were a few younger faces, and indeed a few older, but the core audience was my era (40+...and I'm being kind!)
Just after 8pm Nik Kershaw came on stage. Still a little man, but now with grey hair, as opposed to the blonde I remembered, and a lot more wrinkles, he commenced the show with his song, 'Fiction'. I was immediately drawn to the lyrics and how apt they were. As the night progressed the lyrics were becoming ever present in my head. Nik Kershaw's new work alongside his older was all filled with lyrics which touch the soul, the body, the real world. I'd never noticed that when I was 15! Why? All I noticed then was the catchy tunes and the cool dude! This was different.
Certainly I'm more mature. Certainly Nik is more mature. But this music was stripped to the core. Kershaw was playing acoustic and it worked. Even 'Would't it be Good' was still a catchy tune, and it was exceptional played like this. The lyrics were yet again streaming in front of me. Everyone is envious at times. We all want to think the 'grass is greener'. However, the reality is different.
Not only was the music great last night, but Nik Kershaw was a hugely entertaining  performer. He had us laughing, he had us melancholic with his stories. His song 'The Red Strand' would bring a tear to ones eye, knowing he wrote it for his wife on their wedding day. The man has soul!
One of the most notable features of this show was the computer icons of Kershaw's alter ego's, Rupbert and Frank. I found this to be a fascinating attribute of the show. Rupbert was the positive ego and Frank the pessimist. Again, this only served to enhance my new found respect for Nik Kershaw. This portrayed a reality in everyone. We all have alter ego's and may not be quite as ready to admit such. But Rupbert and Frank were and clearly are, very much a part of Nik.
Kershaw performed many of his old songs in acoustic last night, including 'The Riddle', 'Don Quixote', 'Wouldn't it be Good', 'I Won't Let the Sun go down on Me'. The words all came flooding back to the audience. Alongside these were new songs such as 'Billy',  'Frank', 'The Red Strand' and so many more. However my new favourite has got to be 'Fools and Lovers'. This song just struck a chord with me last night.
One of the highlights of last night with the audience was definitely Chesney Hawkes 'One and Only', written by Nik Kershaw. But 'Human Racing' came a close second on the encore. For me, the entire evening was a highlight. I never expected to enjoy Nik as much as I did. A one man show, with just a guitar and pedal loop proved to be outstanding. I was a dire heart fan in the '80's. I'm now an admirer and huge advocate of this seriously talented singer songwriter.
The big hair, the baggy suits may be gone. Alas, Nik Kershaw is still writing and performing some amazing songs. This is one 80's icon that has just gotten better!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

IBAM Chicago!

Anyone in or around Chicago on the weekend of Oct 3-5th really needs to check this out. IBAM Chicago 2014 looks like it's going to be a great one.