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Hugo Duncan: The day Brendan got a run down of musical career from his mates

Brendan Quinn
Brendan Quinn
High note: Liam Kelly

By Hugo Duncan

When Brendan Quinn linked up with two old school pals, Gerry Donnelly and Felix Mackle, in Castledawson earlier this week, he had not quite bargained on a resume of his singing career.

But in what is now an age of instant communication, his two friends were able to tell Brendan more about his new single than he himself knew.

It was in the aftermath of his hugely successful Tickin' Over album that Brendan was prevailed upon to release I Have Met My Love Today and now this particular number is proving a huge bonus for the Magherafelt man.

It was the legendary country songwriter and performer John Prine who penned the song and, right now, Brendan cannot believe his good fortune as the song is proving massively popular on the airwaves.

"When I got together with Felix and Gerry again, it was only for the craic - I certainly did not expect the focus of our discussion to be on my singing," laughs Brendan.

"But the two boys are not behind the door when it comes to current events and they weren't long letting me know that I had been in the studio.

"If I'm honest, I have to say that I was chuffed. But if you knew the lads, you would know that they are always on the ball - they never miss a thing."

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Pete O'Hanlon, son of the late Mickey O'Hanlon, who was drummer with the Clipper Carlton - the band that put the word "show" into showband - played a big part in producing the song.

A long-time collaborator with Brendan, Pete helped to come up with the new arrangement, which saw horns added by Sean McCarron, accordion by Dermot Byrne and backing vocals provided by Donegal's singing solicitor Jacqui Sharkey (right).

"I think it's a very meaningful song and I have to say I am very glad that I recorded it," says Brendan, who was with me in the BBC Radio Ulster studio yesterday.

"Sometimes, you hear a song for the first time and it makes a big impact on you and you want to get into the studio to do your own version of it."

Brendan, who now lives up on the beautiful Fanad peninsula in Donegal, shot to fame as lead singer with The Bluebirds showband and achieved considerable success with numbers such as Four in the Morning, Fool Enough to Give It One More Try, I Can Almost See My Hometown From Here and Ravishing Ruby.

And now, at a stage in life when most men would prefer to settle for their carpet slippers, put their feet up and take life easy, he is putting the final touches to two forthcoming concerts.

The first of these will be in the Terrace Hotel in his native Magherafelt on Thursday next and the second will take place in the Bardic Theatre, Donaghmore the following night.

"I must say, I am looking forward immensely to these concerts," says Brendan. "Although I spent a good part of my career performing in dance halls around the country, I have grown to like the concert scene."

I am not in the least surprised to note that he has retained his enthusiasm for performing and I have no doubt that his concerts will prove hugely successful.

As Brendan said to me yesterday: "Do you know, Hugo, when you think of people like Big Tom, Larry Cunningham and Gene Stuart, who have gone to their eternal reward, aren't you and I blessed that we can still get up there and sing the odd song?"

I will say Amen to that - from the bottom of my heart.

Claudia Buckley following in her father's footsteps

Jimmy Buckley and his daughter, Claudia, are proving a big hit on their current concert tour.

They were in the Ardowen Theatre, Enniskillen on Wednesday night and in the Clonmel Park Hotel last night and, by all accounts, they served up a knock-out show.

Jimmy, of course, will shortly be undertaking an extensive tour as part of The Three Amigos in tandem with Robert Mizzell and Patrick Feeney.

Now regarded as one of our foremost country performers, Jimmy has been mentoring Claudia's singing career and she is certainly beginning to make a name for herself in her own right.

She featured on the hit single If Anything Happened To You, along with her dad, and this proved the launch pad for her career.

She is one of several young female singers who are making headway on the country scene, with another one being Patricia Maguire, who hails from Newtownstewart.

Schoolteacher Patricia is now proving popular at various concerts and is underlining her talent in style.

She will be one of the artistes taking part in a special Bank Holiday weekend country festival at the Bushtown Hotel, Coleraine at the end of the month.

Patricia will appear there along with Tony Kerr and the Barry Doyle Band on Sunday, October 27.

Meanwhile, Susan McCann proved a big hit when she appeared at Saval near Newry last weekend. I understand there was a capacity crowd to hear her perform all her big hits.

By all accounts, Susan went down a treat and showed that she is still singing as well as ever.

New star with music in his blood... and an old favourite

There is something of a musical dynasty attached to the popular Lowry family from north Tyrone.

I have known the family for many years now and the latest performer to emerge from their ranks is the very talented Jack, who is a cousin of Nathan Carter's drummer, Gareth Lowry.

Jack is a young man who I feel is destined to go places in the country music sphere.

A good-looking six-footer, who is a very capable performer, I can visualise him going from strength to strength. I performed alongside him at two shows last Saturday and Sunday and I must say I was impressed.

Mind you, Jack comes from good musical stock. His uncle John is a long-time member of the well-known Senators band, which has been very popular in Tyrone for many years. He is also a nephew of the Singing Digger Man, the irrepressible Andy Lowry.

I think Jack has the ability to become more popular with the passage of time and, should he come up with the right song, he could switch into overdrive.

Meanwhile, Liam Kelly and his band continue to hit the high spots. They may have only been on the road for a short time, but already they are making people sit up and take notice.

They will be paying a return visit to the Mourne Country Hotel in Newry tomorrow night, where they are assured of a very warm welcome from what is expected to be a big crowd.

Liam, who is backed by very capable musicians, including my good friend Patsy McEnaney, hails from near Cookstown and, having enjoyed success with his debut single, You're Some Trucker, he is currently in search of material for a proposed new album.

He is most certainly an act worth going along to see, whether he is performing at a dance or concert.

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