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Hugo Duncan: Claudia and Jimmy Buckley team up for cracking new single


Jimmy and Claudia Buckley
Jimmy and Claudia Buckley

By Hugo Duncan

There has been a strong family flavour associated with the Irish country music scene. Down through the years, this has manifested itself in recordings and live shows that have helped to sustain the industry and, indeed, have provided the inspiration for others to take up the challenge of making a name for themselves.

Jimmy Buckley has been a long-time favourite and has seldom been more in demand, but now his daughter Claudia is following in his footsteps.

Claudia is an immensely talented teenager who has already recorded with her father and now joins him on their latest single Storms Never Last.

This was, of course, a big hit for Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings, but I must say I am very impressed with the version that Jimmy and his daughter currently have on offer.

It's a smooth, professional production that cannot fail to make a big impression and I thought that I would wish Jimmy well with it.

But before I got round to doing that, Jimmy actually rang me from Spain.

He had found himself in the company of a man named Pedro, who had worked in Belfast for some years and had, apparently, listened to me on the radio every day.

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He became a convert to country music in the process and seemingly could hardly believe it when Jimmy Buckley crossed his path in Spain.

When Pedro asked Jimmy if he knew me, Jimmy dialled my number and I suddenly found myself listening to Pedro reminiscing about Belfast.

It was a very pleasant conversation and I told Pedro that should he ever decide to come back to Belfast, he would be very welcome as a guest on my show.

Meanwhile, Jimmy and Claudia are currently fulfilling a series of concert dates throughout Ireland in tandem with Jimmy's dancing dates.

Having helped Claudia to take her first steps down the country music road, Jimmy is naturally anxious to see her achieve success.

"I have always liked Storms Never Last and I must say I was delighted to have Claudia join me in recording the number," says Jimmy.

"It may be an old song, but it remains very popular and I'm delighted with the initial reaction to the recording."

While Jimmy is fulfilling his own concert dates at the moment, he will shortly be linking up with Robert Mizzell and Patrick Feeney for another Three Amigos tour that will visit the leading venues in the country.

Incidentally, I note that Claudia has been invited to perform on a country music show in Spain next year in her own right, which further underlines her progress.

Jimmy, of course, hosts his own country music weekends in Ireland and also takes hundreds of his followers to his annual Country Music Week on the continent.

I am looking forward to appearing at his Country Music Week in Spain next year.

"I must say that there appears to be a great demand for the shows on the continent, which are now commonplace," says Jimmy.

"It's always encouraging to see familiar faces on these trips because it goes to show the interest there is in country music and the efforts that people are prepared to make to travel to them."

Incidentally, don't forget to tune into Lisa McHugh, who will be filling in for me today on Radio Ulster (1.30pm-3pm) while I head off to Spain to perform at Nathan Carter's Country Music Week tonight.

Lisa will be playing some of her favourite country music and will be happy to take your requests.

Slim chance I’ll put on weight in Spain

I am in Spain today to perform at Nathan Carter’s Country Music Week. This means that I will lose weight.

For a start, I am always nervous in advance of flying and this tends to impact on my appetite.

Then, when I get to Spain, I can never quite manage to eat the dishes that are on offer.

When I finally get on stage, it’s a relief and, when I finish, I always try to have something to eat.

But, really, while I love my food, travelling and performing usually combine to rob me of my appetite. It’s something that I have long since learned to live with.

It is obviously a bonus to get to travel to Spain, especially at this time of the year, and mingle with the hundreds of Nathan Carter fans who attend his Country Music Weeks.

But, if truth be told, I think I was built for comfort — not travel.

Thanks to everyone who's wished my daughter well as she recovers in hospital

Daddy’s girl: Hugo with daughter Suzanne

Three years have passed since I last released a record, so I'm very happy to have a double single out at the minute.

Following great guidance from Raymond Stewart at Sharpe Music, I agreed to record Two Tiny Feet and Call Me Up, two numbers which hold particular appeal for me and which were produced by Ownie Smith.

Two Tiny Feet was written by Gerard Dornan and Johnny Kielty. I like to think that it is synonymous with my grandchildren, whose tiny feet have made a big imprint on my life.

Indeed, right now, the song has even more significance for me, as my daughter Suzanne is currently in hospital recovering from surgery and I am very grateful to all the people in the country music business and the listeners who have taken the time to make contact with me to wish her well.

On Tuesday night, when I got home from visiting at the hospital, I received a call from Philomena Begley wishing Suzanne well.

In the course of our conversation she informed me that she planned on taking a bit of time out from performing. But, like myself, I suspect she will not spend too long looking at the fireplace and the TV.

Call Me Up is a title which has everyday significance for me as I am continually inviting listeners to telephone in to my daily BBC Radio Ulster show with their record requests or titbits of information.

In fact, Call Me Up was initially recorded by the great Marty Robbins and, of course, proved a massive hit.

The songs are among the tracks which will form the material on my new album, which is due for release very shortly.

I can cast my mind back to the early 1970s and recall venturing nervously into a studio to record Dear God, hoping that it might enjoy some small degree of success.

I never thought that, half a century later, I would still be receiving requests to sing the song.

To be able to record a full-blown album now has given me considerable satisfaction and has shown there's still life in the old dog yet.

Curtis and Natasha hitting top notes

I will be linking up with another wee man from Strabane in the form of Curtis Magee when we appear at the Royal British Legion club in Cookstown tomorrow night.

It's a venue at which I have performed on numerous occasions and where the welcome is always warm and sincere.

Curtis has been making great strides in the country music sphere lately, as, has his daughter Natasha.

He hosts his annual Country Music Fanfare in the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine every year and is very much in demand to appear at shows and concerts.

It's not often that two wee men from Strabane share the same stage, but that will be very much the case at Cookstown.

I must say that I really love the intimate atmosphere of clubs where people can relax and enjoy themselves in convivial surroundings.

Such clubs may not have the same profile as top hotels, but they nevertheless play a big part in helping to promote country music across the island and beyond.

In the process various charitable causes are helped and I think this is where many artists show their generous side by lending a helping hand.

Given that funding for various causes has become more restricted because of the situation we find ourselves in now, it's encouraging to note that country music promoters and acts are putting their shoulders to the wheel in order to help bridge the funding gap wherever they can.

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