G Sessions music showcase inspired by Glasgowbury festival returns to Draperstown after three-year hiatus
The legendary G Sessions are returning to Draperstown after a three-year hiatus - this time in its own venue - with a fitting headliner featuring a protegee of Glasgowbury’s own making in indie-folk four-piece Orchid Collective.
Inspired by the festival, the G Sessions were monthly music showcases that ran from 2004 until 2013 at the former Cellar Bar in the Co Derry town.
It will be like coming home for Shea Tohill, from Magherafelt, for whom Glasgowbury provided the catalyst to turn his passion for music into a career.
Not only was he coached as a teenager by the Rural Key Sessions, he has always found encouragement from Glasgowbury founders Paddy and Stella, and when he is at home he helps teach other youngsters how to play guitar at the cornstore.
It seems fitting then that he would return to play the venue as the iconic music showcase returns to his home place and just as his new band is picking up the pace with touring and recording.
Orchid Collective are lead vocalist and guitarist David O’Shea from Co Meath, Tohill from Magherafelt on lead guitar, bassist Hugh O’Neill from Co Sligo, and Dubliner Brian Roony on drums.
Their sound is alternative indie-folk, with distinct vocal harmonies and layers of reverbed guitars, that fans of Villagers, James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver are sure to enjoy.
“We made a big point of four-point harmonies in our band, and then writing it. Dave comes in with folk ideas and acoustic guitar, I add the spacey, ambient U2esque guitar sound,” Tohill explains.
“We spend a lot of time working out different harmony parts, it’s a big thing for us but it usually comes pretty naturally now. Everybody kind of knows what to sing.”
The band came together organically with the friends jamming together while at music college in Dublin.
“We’ve been a band for about three years but we really see the start of the band with the single released last year, Figure It Out and it really marked the start of a real drive,” he said.
“Ever since we’ve finished college we’ve just been gung-ho, we got a manager on board and booking agent and stuff and we’ve just been touring Ireland.”
The origins of the name come from when the band had seven members, but as Tohill explains: “slowly we whittled down to four, touring with seven people was impossible, it was ridiculous.”
As well as touring, the band have just recorded their EP ‘Courage’ with producer Rob Kirwin, who has worked with the likes of Hozier and U2, so the guys are understandably excited about it being released on 21 October.
And they are serious about building up momentum for the EP launch in Dublin, as they have been gigging relentlessly across Ireland, including playing two stages at Electric Picnic.
“It was class, we did the Oxjam stage on Saturday and the Jerry Fish stage on Sunday, it was a much bigger stage, people came to see us and the tents were packed, it was a really cool experience.”
As a Mid-Ulster native he is excited to see the return of the G Sessions in its new home.
“I played a few G Sessions with the Wood Burning Savages and I used to go to them all the time, I saw And So I Watch You From Afar and Cashier No 9 back in the day when I was 17/18. It’s great that they’re back,” he continues.
“It needs it, whenever I was in school you used to go and see bands that were touring England and they were coming and playing a bar in Draperstown, it’s really encouraging whenever you're a teenager and that’s been kind of missing for the last three years so I think it’s great that Paddy and Stella are running it again.
“There needs to be something between Belfast and Derry, if you’re touring as a band it's great, you can do Thursday night in Belfast, Friday night in Draperstown and Saturday night in Derry. It’s cool you can do this wee spot in the middle of the Glenshane.”
He added: “The Cornstore is really cool, it has a really good PA, good sound and good people, good room –it’s great I look forward to playing there.”
Also playing at the first G Sessions in the Cornstore Loft is Michael Mormecha of Mojo Fury fame.
He will be bringing his alt-pop sounds from his debut album ‘LOFi LiFE’ which was released in May.
The gig is bring your own booze, strictly no glass. Tickets are £7 and available now online or from the Cornstore