From Ricky Ross to Nanci Griffith, Delta blues to pay-what-you-want gigs, it's an impressive line-up in Ulster next week, says Damien Murray
Boasting 75 songwriters performing almost 30 concerts in various Belfast venues, the fourth Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, running from next Wednesday until Sunday, February 23, just gets better each year.
In addition to the introduction of an impressive songwriting convention, this year's performance line-up would make any aspiring songwriter, or music lover, sit up and take notice.
Reading like a who's who of international and local practitioners, the programme includes Nanci Griffith, Don Schlitz (When You Say Nothing At All, The Gambler and Forever And Ever Amen), Pat Alger, Kevin Gordon, Ralph Murphy, Victoria Banks, Eliza Lynn, Tony Kerr, Benny Gallagher (Heart On My Sleeve and Breakaway), Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Swedish songwriter Tobias Froberg, John Power of The La's and Cast and Dougie Maclean (Caledonia).
Iain Archer leads a strong local line-up that includes Ben Glover, Bap Kennedy, Anthony Toner, The Delawares, Charlie McGettigan, Wally Page, Janet Holmes, Kevin Doherty and Paul Casey.
Leading industry organisations such as PRS, IMRO and NIMIC will also provide an insight into various aspects of the music business with talks, seminars and workshops all planned throughout the five-day event.
Performance highlights of the opening days include Ricky Ross at the King's Head and Benny Gallagher at Madison's (both Wednesday), plus Chris Difford at the Black Box, Dougie Maclean at the King's Head and Nanci Griffith at the Empire Music Hall (all on Thursday).
For full details and tickets, visit www.belfastnashville.com or you can buy tickets from Belfast Welcome Centre (9024 6609).
Inspired by the blues, infused with the funk rhythms of New Orleans and topped off by virtuoso musicianship, Matt Schofield is being talked of as the finest blues guitarist to have emerged in Europe for several generations.
His latest album, Ear To The Ground, has received rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, while his approach has been described as "an enjoyable demonstration of what can happen when blues-rock and blues-jazz are united" .
Boasting a band line-up that harks back to the classic organ trios of the 1950s and 1960s, their sound redefines the meaning of "power trio" and is unlike anything else on the current blues scene.
Catch him when he makes his local debut at the Spring & Airbrake this evening and at Lisburn's Island Arts Centre tomorrow night.
For many, a Saturday morning may seem an unusual time to be attending a musical event, but tomorrow, at 11.30am, a fascinating one is set to take place at Belfast's historic Linen Hall Library.
Stepping back in time, The Flight Of The Earls In Words And Music will celebrate a key event in Ireland's rich past, whilst also marking another historic moment for the library, as it will be the literary landmark's inaugural 'pay what you like' performance.
Featuring All-Ireland fiddle champion, Oisin Mac Diarmada, and writer, broadcaster and flute player, Marcas O Murchu, this unique blend of history, music and poetry will chart the journey of the Ulster Lords out of Ireland in 1607 and their subsequent travels across Europe.