Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

An Ulster Log: How Kate Bush bought a Lambeg on Sandy Row

By Eddie McIlwaine

Legend has it that singer and songwriter Kate Bush was on a stroll down Sandy Row in Belfast one summer afternoon 30 years ago when she heard the rhythmic thunder of a Lambeg drum and was drawn to investigate the source of the intoxicating sound.

And there and then as she listened, intrigued, Kate, now 56, placed an order for a Lambeg of her own.

For the shop she had entered was Drum Sounds, which is still there in the Row. And the singer, whose first hit was Wuthering Heights when she was 19, placed her order with the then owner Jim Hewitt.

Her instructions were that the drum was to have paintings of clouds around its rim. And, at a cost of £500, was to be called Cloudbuster — a nod to a song she’d just written. That Cloudbuster Lambeg features as a support instrument on Kate's 1985 album Hounds of Love, which was a UK No 1, selling 600,000 and going double-platinum.

And the instrument was also played on the single Running Up That Hill, which went to No 3 in the charts in 1985. Naturally, it also features on another single, Cloudbusting, which charted at 19 in the UK and 13 in Ireland.

But I wonder if anyone today can tell me the name of the drummer on the recordings. There is a suggestion he was a member of Kate's own band, but the popular belief is that the man with the sticks was a veteran member of the Co Antrim Lambeg Drumming Association who has since died.

Alas, Jim Hewitt is no longer around at Drum Sounds, where the Hewitt line has died out, to shed any light.

Anyway, the sound of Cloudbuster just might be heard again when the delightful Miss Bush arrives at the Hammersmith Apollo in London for 17 dates, starting this August.

She famously has only toured once — 35 years ago — and included the Hammersmith Apollo in her list of concerts back then, too.

Cara has stolen my heart

You'd never associate stunning Cara Dillon with thievery, but one of my favourite songs by the Dungiven singer is called Hill of Thieves and I listen to it all the time.

BBC Radio Ulster presenters enjoy the song, too, and give it a regular spin.

She's also great when it comes to tear-jerking love ballads.

There's an angelic look about this mum-of-three – just take a closer look at my picture of her. And now she has announced two shows for autumn – at the Waterfront, Belfast, on October 11, and the Millennium Forum, Londonderry, on October 12.

Cara will be performing tracks from her new album A Thousand Hearts, and will be joined by guest artist Dan Tyminski, a core member of multi-Grammy winning Alison Krauss' band Union Station.

Tyminski was the singing voice of George Clooney in the Coen Brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? and also featured on the global, million-selling hit Hey Brother for Swedish electronic dance artist, Avicii.

Late, great Sam will be saying it again ...

Dan Gordon couldn't have picked a more appropriate title for the documentary he is presenting on BBC Radio Ulster tomorrow at 1.05pm.

He calls it Say It Again Sam! and devotes the programme to the late broadcaster and writer Sam McAughtry, who died three months ago at 93.

Dan will be reliving some of the hours of shows to which Sam contributed when he finally discovered himself as a perfect radio voice after a spell in the RAF, working as a labourer and then spending years as a civil servant.

As well as some wonderful archive clips, taken from BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Radio Ulster programmes since the mid '70s, listeners will hear Sam talking about his upbringing in the Tiger's Bay district of Belfast.

There will also be recordings of Sam talking about how he left school at 14 and the life he led behind a desk in the Civil Service before winding up with a pen in one hand and a microphone in the other.

The Sinking of the Kenbane Head, published in 1977, was his first book and a bestseller and Sam wrote many sparkling newspaper columns. too.

This documentary from Kinnagoe Productions will be repeated this Thursday at 7.30pm on Radio Ulster.

Port needs to spruce up for Open

I'm not getting too excited about The Open coming to Portrush in 2019 – anything can happen in five years. But isn't it great that 'The Port', traditionally a working class holiday resort, is set to play host to such an elite tournament.

A word of warning though – last time I was in Portrush the old place looked shabby and in need of a good clean-up and a coat of paint. I want to see the resort looking as good as it did all those years ago when I went there every summer on the Sunday School excursion and spent my pocket money riding the dodgems in Barry's.

The Royal Portrush links? Some say they are the most beautiful in the world. I wouldn't go that far. But then golf was never my game since the afternoon at Ballyclare when my wild tee shot missed the ball by a mile and a good friend told me to stick to ludo.

Christmas is on its way again

And finally let me remind you that today – June 21 – is the longest day of the year.

The nights will start drawing in from now on and Christmas will be just around the corner.

Isn't that a scary thought?

Buckets and spades haven't even been put away, yet before you know it the shops will be awash with Christmas decorations and presents.

Better get my Christmas list sorted then.

Searching for heavenly bodies

Any mention of an angel reminds me of an old song called I'll String Along With You (You May Not Be An Angel) which Jo Stafford and Gordon McCrae heard in a movie called Twenty Million Sweethearts in the 50s.

They polished it up and turned it into a major hit in the Sixties.

A big regret is that I never caught up with the beautiful Jo to find out if she was convinced angels did exist.

I'll String Along With You first appeared in 1934 and here are some of the wonderful lyrics:

You may not be an angel, 'Cause angels are so few

But until the day that one comes along, I'll string along with you

I'm looking for an angel to sing my love song to

And until the day that one comes along I'll string along with you.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph