Shot in our fabulous flat here in Edinburgh - the Fringe action just keeps on going.
Shot in our fabulous flat here in Edinburgh - the Fringe action just keeps on going.
Thursday, March 15th. Shortly after arriving in Belfast, I was sitting in a coffee shop pondering why I was here and what there was to do around town that would make me forget the fact that it was pissing rain outside. I was routed out of my self-pitying reverie by the sight of a young man in a maroon crushed velvet smoking jacket carrying a ukulele case. There seemed to be no other option than to pose the latter of my questions to him. One of his suggestions was not to miss a chance to see The Delawares. You can follow our ukulele wielding friend’s advice this Thursday at the Empire.
Friday, March 16th. We really like Ruby Colley here at team LTA because, frankly, there just aren’t enough female experimental violinists in the world today and we’re glad she’s trying to fill that niche. You can check her out at the Pavilion this Friday. Doors open at 9 PM. Hopefully, she might just pop up again on LTA.
Saturday, March 17th. I’ve written enough about St. Patrick’s day, at least for this year, so go find yourself a fake orange beard and make yourself an ethnic stereotype, for WKD’s sake.
The cryptic suggestion of the week is to check out “Spectrum City Was the Name” at Catalyst Arts Gallery. This exhibition, if that’s what it is, is produced by Bad Beuys Entertainment, a French collective from the Parisian suburb of Cergy-Pontoise. I tried looking on Catalyst Arts website to find out more about their latest show but they’re still clinging to the glory days of the much celebrated work “The Bath is Hot”, and haven’t managed to update their website. Dipping into the ever-so reputable world of the blogosphere, I found this description of the artists in question: “Bad Beuys Entertainment is: a political party—a rock ‘n’ roll band—a ham-fisted team—a company producing works of art—a zulu’s mob. They could be interesting or they could just be French. Either way, “Spectrum City Was the Name” wins the prize for the cryptic choice of the week. It’s on till April 7th, I think it's free, so why not go check it out?
And finally...the Belfast Film Festival starts next week and I'll be posting about the upcoming films each and every day of the festival. So, if you want to know what I'll be seeing--think documentaries and little known war zones--then check out the posts. Better yet though, check out the film festival website to find films you might like and book your tickets in advance.
Friday, March 9th. The Black Box is my new favorite venue because of their truly eclectic programming. This Friday at 1:15 PM, Jigsaw Theater is putting on a lunchtime double bill. The first showcases the maddening bureaucracy one must suffer in order to renew your driver’s license; the second features a protagonist who’s a funeral gatecrasher. You could spend your lunch hour queuing up for a sandwich at Centra or you could mosey on down to the Black Box, have some fair trade coffee, and enjoy what the website describes as “a comic double bill from the warped mind of American satirist Chris Durang.”
Sunday, March 11th. According to a friend of Chris Murray (see photo above) at Hallion, Electric Eel Shock are “visually fucking amazing.” I don’t really know what Chris’s friend meant by that but if that sound’s intriguing to you, check them out. They’re at Auntie Annies at 9pm.
If that isn’t your cup of tea or if you aren’t down for shelling out six quid for amazing visuals, you could go to the John Hewitt where they have just started a Bluegrass night. I’ve never been to this, nor do I have third-hand information about it but I love bluegrass so this is where I’d spend my Sunday night. You be the judge.
Now, I could write more. I could fill up space about the Metallica Tribute band, playing at the Spring and Airbrake on Friday, but I am sick of writing about tribute bands. If you want to spend ten pounds to watch some people rehash Metallica’s greatest hits, go for it, but I’d much rather write about local bands who are playing their own stuff.
So now, the desperate plea. If you are a local musician or artist or actor and you have an upcoming gig, exhibition, or performance, write to me and let me know about it. If you know of anything cool going on in Belfast, write to me and let me know about it. There is so much more to Belfast than tribute bands and a touring show of Cats and I would love to write about it but I can’t do that if I can’t find it.
Don’t forget to book your tickets now for the Belfast Film Festival and don’t forget to write me (and I know I sound pathetic here, I sound like a kid at summer camp, but that’s all part of a desperate plea) and let me know about all these hidden Northern Irish gems that I know exist.
Friday, March 2. A man so sure of himself that he turned down an opportunity to be part of the Rolling Stones and so influential that Eric Clapton credits him with introducing him to the blues, the legendary Rory Gallagher, while not back from the dead, is imitated by tribute band Double Vision at Morrison’s tonight.
To get you in the Rory Gallagher tribute band mood, you can start your evening off at No Alibis with an atmospheric evening of poetry at their Candle and Mirror Poetry night. Held every first Friday of the month at 7 pm.
Saturday, March 3. What I liked about the Alternative alternative club night, Bop Yestrum, at the Pavilion was that they advertise the play list so that you can decide ahead of time if you feel like listening to Brian Eno on a Saturday night. You make the call, but if the answer’s yes, head on down to the Pavilion
Tuesday, March 6. If you’ve been looking for a good place to wear your togs in public, search no more ‘cause artist Joanna Karolini has kindly created a tog-friendly environment in her installation, “The Bath is Hot” at Catalyst Arts Gallery. This traditional Finnish sauna is free and open to the public as long as you “bring towels, togs and flip-flops. Karolini says of her creation, "I wish a broad audience to use the gallery as a meeting place and the sauna to be a catalyst for social exchange, discussions and a warm platform where other events can take place." Tuesday from 6 to 9 pm is nudes mixed. If you don’t want to be naked in an environment of co-ed strangers, it’s a ladies only sauna experience on Wednesday, and gents only on Thursday night. This exhibition leaves on March 9th so catch this warm platform where other events may or may not take place while you can.
Thursday, March 8. If there’s a fragmented version of a play just dying to get out of you, Tinderbox Theatre’s Writing Workshop offers adhesive assistance from 7 pm to 9 pm. The first of three spring workshops claims they will “make use of the canon,” helping you to structure that staggering work of heartbreaking genius into something that will finally let you quit your day job.
So, those are my picks for this week in Belfast. From candle-lit poetry to Finish saunas, the world's your oyster here in Northern Ireland.
(Photos at the Top and Above from 'The Bath is Hot')
Hi guys. This is Erin, the unpaid intern here. Inspired by the crushed velveteen self-portrait of Jett as a sad clown (which even sports a bit of bling with a solitary cubic zirconium tear frozen on his cheek) that now adorns the wall of his new flophouse, I thought I might partake in a little self-indulgent whining regarding the fact that no one cares about my pithy and informative postings on what to do in Belfast. And then, I thought better of it. So, while I can’t vouch for the substantive quality of all of these events, this is what sparkled in a quick perusal of what’s on in Belfast this week.
Friday, February 23. Lyric Theatre. This weekend is your last chance to watch this creative cross-dressing interpretation of the Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. The all-male cast camps it up in costume jewelry and cloaks, offering a fascinating portray of gender roles and repressed sexuality in 16th century Sicily.
Queens Film Theatre. QFT kicks off its “Stella Artois Oscars Fever” season, which runs from Friday the 23rd until Thursday, March 22nd with Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. The film, nominated for four Oscars, is on at 6:30 and 9:30.
The Front Page. Winning my own prize for the most cryptic suggestion of the week, I saw a flyer with an abstract picture of a fish advertising something that looked intriguing at the Front Page on Friday the 23rd. I don’t know when it starts or what it is. I can’t tell you anymore than it looked like it could be weird and wacky so if you’re looking for a surprise, go to The Front Page at an undetermined time.
Saturday, February 24. The Empire. I’m a sucker for both alliteration and bands that rip off 80s metal. As I was leafing through the latest edition of Fast and Modified Magazine, the following description caught my eye: “Not many bands deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the mighty Guns and Roses and AC/DD, never mind be compared to them, but Rattlesnake Remedy certainly do.” With the Fast and Modified seal of approval, there’s no excuse to not check out Rattlesnake Remedy at the Empire. Doors open at 8:30.
Sunday, February 25. The Black Box. While I mentioned this show in the last entry, this man deserves the repetition. You may have heard his work on Scrubs or been wowed by his solo acoustic album, aptly entitled Man @ Work. That’s right, the man who comes from the land down under himself, Colin Hay at the Black Box, 8 pm.
You can enjoy the Belfast art scene on Monday and Tuesday. The Eikon art exhibit, based on the five uplifting coordinates of Ikon—iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging, and failing—is in the Gallery Space at the Waterfront Hall until Wednesday, February 28th. The portrayal of the religious landscape of Northern Ireland as a monopoly board is worth the trip alone.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a gay Indian man living in Europe, the photography of Sunil Gupta might shed some light on this issue and much more. Two of his exhibitions, Homelands and Tales of a City are on display at Belfast Exposed until March 23.
Wednesday, February 28th. Northern Ireland’s own Duke Special is playing at the Ulster Hall. If you can’t afford the fourteen pounds to hear Duke’s dulcet tones, you can saunter down to the Queens Student Union for what Eddie Mullan of Future Shorts assures us will be an evening of cutting edge entertainment. We think that means short films but you’ll have to see for yourself to be sure.
Thursday, March 1. The Black Box. Just what you needed to get your March going with a bang—a one woman show on running which tells the story of four female runners and a man who vaguely resembles Tony Soprano. What’s not to love? When to Run is at the Black Box sometime on Thursday. It didn’t say when but I’m assuming it follows the open mike night entitled “Fresh Meat,” which starts at 6:30. Why not show up early to showcase your talent? Maybe you’ll leave inspired to either create music or run.
And that’s the week in Belfast according to Erin’s ceaseless scoring for fun to be had here in Northern Ireland.
After further research, I realized that Rattlesnake Remedy was actually here in January. A group called The 4 of Us is at the Empire on Saturday. This band sports neither alliteration nor a positive recommendation from Fast and Modified Magazine. Who knows, though? They might rock.
The rebirth of Belfast apparently couldn’t be achieved without a magical grab bag of festivals. The next six weeks offers festival-goers the option to celebrate songwriters, St. Patrick, and cinema through the diverse media of Irish reggae (in Irish), dodgeball, and documentary filmmaking. The fact that the most established festival, Belfast Festival at Queens, is fighting for survival hasn’t stemmed the proliferation of thematic explorations of Belfast’s renaissance.
Although the financially strapped Belfast Festival has been running for forty-five years, the majority of the festival upstarts are children of the post-Good Friday Agreement era. This week features the 3rd Annual Belfast-Nashville Songwriters’ Festival, which allegedly occurs simultaneously in Nashville. Events begin on Wednesday, February 21st with concerts and songwriting workshops running until Sunday, February 25th as well as a photography exhibition documenting Belfast and Nashville musicians that will be on display at the Black Box until March 3rd.
When I read about this festival last year, it intrigued me, but not enough to go to any of the events. This year, however, I will be going to the Nanci Griffith show (she’s at the Black Box on Friday and The King’s Head on Saturday. My picks for the five-day festival would be as follows:
Wednesday, February 21st:
A Diamond from a Piece of Coal: This is a song-writing workshop with Shay Healy at Madison’s Hotel Cellar, 59 Botanic Avenue, from 7 to 8pm. Even though I don’t know who Shay Healy is, I really liked the peppy, inspiring copy describing the event in the festival brochure, which assures the four pound charge will offer: “A pro-active session to write a full song with whoever shows up and keep on pushing it around and refining it until it is a diamond. The session is about learning to stretch as writers.” Who could turn down the opportunity to leave Madison’s both literarily limber and with their very own four-carat song?
Thursday, February 22nd:
Bluegrass Legends Concert: Lord love the luthier that created the mandolin. I just love it. Everything sounds better when played on a mandolin. And then there’s the banjo. Don’t even get me started. The festival brochure reminds readers that the Scots-Irish settled in Appalachia and thus are responsible for bluegrass and so much more, such as Andrew Jackson. But since he’s not showcased here, we’ll have to settle for Thursday’s homage to the Scottish influence on music with the locally-based Broken Strings Band, Scotland’s very own Rod Paterson, and 2004 winner of the Best Song in Ulster Scots at, of course, the Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival, Pauline Nelson. Check the show out at Madison’s at 9pm.
Friday, February 23rd:
Bréag : Although I already have tickets to Nancy Griffith on Friday, I would almost give those up to hear what reggae sounds like in the Irish language. If you’d like to experience what is sure to be a unique musical event, check out Bréag, part of Belfast’s “small but loyal reggae scene” at the Basement of McHugh’s Bar, 29 Queens Square, at 9 pm.
Saturday, February 24th:
Lee Roy Parnell and Nanci Griffith: Since it’s a weekend and you have plenty of time, why not pick up some slide guitar skills from Lee Roy Parnell at the Belfast Guitar Emporium from 5:30 to 6:30. Or just say you did cause it sounds pretty cool. If you’re still into country music, go see Nanci Griffith, one of the voices of the three sirens from O Brother Where Art Thou, at the Kings Head at 8pm.
Sunday, February 25:
Lee Roy Parnell and Colin Hay: If you didn’t get enough of Lee Roy Parnell when he was teaching you everything he ever knew about the slide guitar in one hour, go hear him at the John Hewitt Bar, starting at 3pm. Afterwards, you can mosey on down to the Black Box to check out the photography exhibition and find out the answer to the question that has surely been plaguing you for months, “Whatever happened to Australian recording star and former front-man for Men at Work, Colin Hay? Ponder no longer cause he’s at the Black Box at 8 pm. If you’re really really lucky, he might even sing “Who Can it Be Now.”
(Photo above taken by Jett at the Black Box, one of the festival venues).
I saw this man sitting grumpily in a corner testing out his Wi-Fi in a Belfast Cafe. As long as he was on-line I pointed him to 'Letter to America'; specifically this post:
UPDATE - Wednesday, 5th April: In the comment section of this post Dave informs us that this mystery pong player is in fact the composer Brian Irvine.
Now, I'm not au fait enough with the Northern Irish music scene to be able to judge the quality of Dave's comment that Brian is Northern Ireland's 'greatest living composer' but I tell ya his music does, in fact, ROCK. Here's his website:
Go the the Music Section of the website where's there's a whole load of fantastic MP3s to play and tracks to purchase via PayPal.
Ahh, what can one say about Rachel Stevens? Poet, humanitarian, renowned vascular surgeon and accomplished painter of abstracts in oil Rachel Stevens has accomplished a lot in her wee few years. We are happy to have her here in Belfast this year to turn on the Christmas Lights outside Belfast City Hall. Rumours that she was paid £20,000 for 'flipping the switch' will not be listened to.
This copy of City Matters shoved through my post box is what alerted me to Rachel's presence in the county.
If you're interested in what the Locals had to say about Rachel's visit then listen in to Chapter 10 coming this Friday Night.
Till then I remain your devoted servant.
P.S. I'm off to check myself now like Rachel advised above.
from the archive