Music fans are in for a treat in the New Year as the Millennium Forum hosts Homegrown 2017 on Friday 13th January.
Since 2013, the Homegrown gigs have gone from strength to strength, showcasing the best in local musical talent. This year’s line-up includes Paul Casey & Band, Ports, Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas and The Henry Girls.
2013 saw Derry city host the UK City of Culture. There were lots of music events throughout that year. The first live event of that year was the first HOMEGROWN and it has been growing ever since.
I spoke with Paul Casey earlier today who is the founder of HOMEGROWN. Paul told me, "I always did a Christmas gig and thought that 2013 would be apt for something different. Alongside the others, I proposed the idea to the forum for a gig of home musicians. They agreed and the rest is history."
"That first gig sold 900 tickets and showed how important the people of Derry and surrounding area feel about local music. Many events that year were free and yet here were the Derry people paying for this. This gig showcased the importance of homegrown music and en-captured the importance of local talent."
Since that year, HOMEGROWN has grown in popularity and continuing to do so now into 2017. "Initially we planned a one-off show and now here we are still performing annually to a home crowd. It's incredible."
Casey adds, "we have another great line up this year as with previous years."
PORTS are a four piece band from Northern Ireland known for performing ‘emotionally literate rock’. They consist of Steven McCool (Bass and Vocals), Mark O'Doherty (Drums), Ryan Griffiths (Guitar) and Conor Mason (Piano). After the release of their first demo ‘I’d Let You Win’, the band received a flood of fantastic reviews including; 'Flavour of the Month' and 'Ones to Watch' from BBC Introducing which resulted in extensive airplay from BBC Radio 1, RTE and countless others. PORTS rose to prominence in Ireland after an exciting performance at 'Other Voices', Derry-Londonderry (when they stepped in to replace Two Door Cinema Club). After their memorable performance, they were asked to return to the Other Voices stage, this time in London’s own Wilton’s Music Hall, joined by Villagers; John Grant; SOAK and Imelda May.
No stranger to the Forum, Paul Casey’s music has also been on the rise with many of his songs used in major TV shows across the pond.
Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas are a 7 piece Folk Rock Country Pop Punk Blues Band from Northern Ireland. They are notorious for their no holds barred rocking live shows full of original songs about life here, there and everywhere. Paddy is often hailed as ‘Ireland’s Springsteen’, a badge he wears with diffidence. The band released their third album ‘Laughter & Love’ earlier last year to a rapture of praise from critics and fans alike.
The McLaughlin sisters are from Malin in Inishowen, County Donegal. They formed the band over 10 years ago. They named the band after their grandfather. They released their debut album, Between Us, in 2003, and was produced by Máire Breatnach. They released their album Dawn in 2010, and that year they were nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Original Score for the film A Shine of Rainbows, which featured songs from the album Dawn.
So just what is it about Paul Casey and the importance of this local talent on his local stage? "I'm a full-time musician and try to bring out a new album every year. I self-finance and I'm really lucky to be still doing this. Bringing my own music and other local talent to the home stage makes me feel privileged. I love what I do and this gig is very important."
Having played in many parts of the world, just where has been most poignant for Casey? Playing the Royal Albert Hall with Chris Rea was memorable. I was both in his band and his support act. That was a privilege."
"But for now, the most important gig is that on Friday 13th January at the Millennium Forum. After that I'm not sure where the next gig will be. The industry is interesting. It can be either a feast or a famine. But for now, the important one is Derry."
Music is very clearly at the heart and soul of what Casey is all about. But just what would he be doing if he wasn't in music? "I love film. Growing up I wanted to be Steven Spielberg! Recently I've had the pleasure of working with local film director Keith O'Grady. I've put music to two of his short films. One of these showed at Brunswick movie-bowl just a few weeks ago. This was a massive buzz for me. Hearing my music throughout the film was great."
I'm sure many like myself, hope Casey continues doing what he does for many years to come. Speilberg can stay in LA, but Casey continually returns to his hometown of Derry. That'll do for us!
HOMEGROWN is on at Millennium Forum Derry, on Friday 13th January and tickets can be purchased from the Box Office on 02871264455 or online at Millennium Forum