Belfast Telegraph

Wagon Wheel star Nathan Carter ready to roll as rugby club celebrates its 60th anniversary

By Amanda Ferguson

He's the country singer who counts The Dubliners, Van Morrison, Michael Buble and The Beatles as his influences and feels completely at home in Northern Ireland - despite coming from Liverpool.

Wagon Wheel singer Nathan Carter is set to entertain 3,000 country music fans in June on the pitch at Ballynahinch Rugby Football Club to help celebrate its 60th anniversary.

"We are doing only a few select dates in Northern Ireland this summer," he said.

"We are delighted to be playing an outdoor open air event.

"I haven't played in Ballynahinch in a few years, so it is great to be coming back."

Fermanagh-based Nathan has fans young and old across the UK and Ireland.

On Thursday, ahead of performing a sold-out show at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry, he turned up at St Eithne's Primary School in the city to open its new play park after the children said he was top of their wish list to attend. "It was great," he said.

"Lovely to be there for the kids. I am delighted I was in the area."

The 24-year-old was brought up in Liverpool, where his father Ian is from, but mother Noreen's family is from Co Down, so the young singer was regularly in Newry and Warrenpoint growing up.

"The Wards, me nan's family, originate from there," he said in his strong Liverpool accent. "Me dad's ones are all Scousers."

He added: "Growing up in Liverpool with Irish heritage, I think we were sometimes more Irish than people living in Ireland.

"Growing up, I was into traditional music, competed in the fleadh cheoil and I was sent to Irish dancing, but they sent me back home because I was useless.

"We came over to Ireland every couple of months to visit friends and family when I was a kid."

The country and folk music singer says he is looking forward to the Ballynahinch open air gig as audiences here are always "very lively".

"We played in Derry, sold out Thursday night at the Millennium Forum," he explained.

"From kids age five and six to older people, they all sang, clapped, danced and had a good time, which makes my job an awful lot easier."

The busy young performer, who signed to the Decca Music label last year, says he has a hectic schedule.

"I am in Ireland gigging for the next two weeks, then I go to England for the release of my new album.

"It is coming out on May 11 and it's called Beautiful Life.

"It's a song off the album and life is good at the minute, so the title makes sense."

Richard Hart, honorary secretary of Ballynahinch RFC, said the June event has been organised to fundraise for the club, which is celebrating its 60th season, and to support the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children.

"A big ticket star is the key thing for us in terms of appeal and Nathan is the man for it," he said.

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"We are a country club in the sense we are based out in the foothills of the Mourne mountains and Dromara Hills.

"There is a big following for Nathan in the area and further afield so he was the obvious one to get along. I quite enjoy Wagon Wheel, much to my kids' annoyance!"

Richard Hart of Ballynahinch RFC

Belfast Telegraph


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