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Archive for the 'Music' Category

19th Jan 2016

Jazzabelles are Go: for real!

You may remember that in the summer I was in a couple of rehearsed readings of an original musical, The Jazzabelles by Nick Boyle. It’s about three women in 1950s Belfast who overcome adversity to become a jazz singing trio. I played their manager, had a couple of songs, and also designed the poster. Well, the Kickstarter campaign was successful, and the full show is about to go on the road. My part has been recast, but I’m still in it in a smaller role.

The dates are:

  • Thursday 11 February, 8pm: Strule Arts Centre, Omagh (book tickets – £10 full price, £8 concession)
  • Friday 12 February, 7.30pm: The Old Courthouse Theatre, Antrim (book tickets – £10 full price, £8 concession)
  • Saturday 13 February, 8pm: Island Arts Centre, Lisburn (book tickets – £12 full price, £10 concession)
  • Friday 19 February, 8pm: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick (£12 full price, £10 concession)
  • Saturday 20 February, 8pm: Market Place Theatre, Armagh (book tickets – £10)

Keep it FreeHere’s “Keep it Free” recorded live with The Jazzabelles trio and band! Live shows touring in February! The video’s from a steamy noir called club Paradise.

Posted by The Jazzabelles Musical on Monday, January 18, 2016

https://vimeo.com/133464586

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04th Jul 2015

Jazzabelles are Go!

The Jazzabelles

The Jazzabelles, the musical I’m in, made its triumphant debut with a rehearsed reading last night at the South Bank Playhouse on Kimberley Drive, off Sunnyside Street in Belfast. There’s a second performance tonight at 8pm.

Above is my rendition of the three heroines, Ella (Claire McCartney), Prissy (Beccy Henderson) and Vera (Sam McMillan). Done with digitally-simulated manual colour separations – click the image if you’re interested in the process.

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14th Jun 2015

There’s no business…

The Jazzabelles

I’m in a show! The Jazzabelles is an original musical by local composer Nick Boyle, about three women in 1950s Belfast who form a jazz trio. I play their manager, Vince Flynn, a man with a secret – and two songs, as well as contributing to others.

The Jazzabelles themselves are Claire McCartney, Samantha McMillan and Beccy Henderson, and they’re amazing. Beccy in particular can hit notes so high they don’t have names, apparently effortlessly, their harmonies are awesome, and Nick has written them some fantastic songs.

We’re rehearsing towards two preview performances on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July at the South Bank Playhouse off Sunnyside Street in south Belfast, which we hope will drum up a bit of interest among theatregoers and persuade venues to book us for a full production. Sign up on Facebook to be kept up to date.

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03rd Sep 2014

Probably won’t be a page this week

Unless I can get it drawn and uploaded by the end of the day. I’m a bit knackered. On Friday I was part of the music group (guitar and vocals) at the wedding of our fantastic singing teacher Róisín Magee at Newry Cathedral. Most of it was reasonably straightforward, except Róisín and Conor left the church to the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” – one of my favourite songs, but fiddly to play, and took a lot of practice beforehand to get right. My fingertips are still tender. But we gave Róisín a great send-off, I’m proud and honoured  to have been involved, and we’ll have to call her Mrs McKenna when classes resume in a few weeks time. Here’s a photie of the happy couple nicked from Facebook.

Conor and Róisín cut the cake

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20th Aug 2014

No page today

Completely failed to get any work done on the comic yesterday. Other things to do. As consolation, how about me singing the old Big Star song “Thirteen”?

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01st Jan 2014

It’s 2014!

And as it turns out, this Wednesday is New Year’s Day. Whose idea was that? If Julius Caesar or Pope Gregory the whateverth who made the calendar had thought it through, they would have realised that meant me missing two weeks in a row of The Cattle Raid of Cooley. So, normal service will be resumed next week when I’m back at my day job and can remember what day of the week it is.

So, 2013, eh? What was all that about?

An interesting year in a number of ways. My house needed extensive renovation – one of those annoying things where you get someone in to deal with a minor problem, and they find a bigger problem underlying it, so you get someone in to deal with that and they find an even bigger problem underlying that, and so on until you practically have to rebuild the house from the foundations up. So that was a bit stressful, and it meant I spent probably half the year at my mum’s. Which explains why my posting schedule was a bit erratic, but I couldn’t tell you that at the time, because what kind of idiot advertises the fact that their house is unoccupied on the internet?

But I still managed to do some interesting things. For example:

  • In April I was invited to the Dundalk Book Festival, to appear on a panel about Irish comics with Tommie Kelly, Rob Curley, Hilary Lawler and Alan Nolan, and that was fun.
  • At the end of May/beginning of June I was a guest at the 2D Comics Festival in its new venue, the Millennium Dome Falcon Forum in Derry, which was superb as usual.
  • At the end of June the singing class I go to (Singing for Adults with Róisín Magee at the Crescent Arts Centre) held a cabaret concert which raised over £1000 for the MS Society, in which I sang the Temptations’ “My Girl”, duetted with Gary Fullerton on “Me and My Shadow”, and did backing vocals on other people’s solos. It was brilliant. We were stars.
  • In October, as part of the Belly Laughs Comedy Festival, I organised Comic Capers with Davy Francis and Chums, a retrospective of Davy’s 40 years as a cartoonist. Davy was brilliant, a natural raconteur, and we also had fantastic contributions from Ian Knox, political cartoonist of the Irish News, Alan Ryan of Faraday the Blob and The Beano, Ann Harrison of Bunsen Bunnies, Brian John Spencer, cartoonist from Northern Ireland political website Slugger O’Toole, live caricaturist Colm Campbell and documentary cartoonist Patrick Sanders. Not a huge turnout, and there were some organisational hitches, but everyone who came seemed to enjoy it.

Plans for 2014 include ploughing on with the Cattle Raid, which has started its penultimate chapter; keeping up the singing, and hopefully doing a few open mic nights; and getting the new Belfast Drawers’ Club, or whatever it turns out being called, to include political cartoonists, caricaturists, illustrators and storyboard artists as well as comics artists, up and running. No doubt there will be a few surprises along the way. Hopefully they’ll be nice ones.

So, in conclusion, a very happy new year to all my readers. See yez next Wednesday for the conclusion of Medb’s flashback.

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04th Sep 2013

Apologies

Tried to get the page done this evening, so at least if it was late it’d still be within deadline, but it’s just not happening. I know what I want to draw, it just won’t go down right. So it’s time to give up and say it’ll next week.

So, something else. For the last year and a bit I’ve been going to singing classes at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, and the last couple of weekends we’ve done an intensive workshop in the Accidental Theatre Company‘s rehearsal space, culminating in a recording session on Sunday at the Oh Yeah Music Centre. We all had a bit of solo and a lot of harmony, and I played a bit of guitar. Here’s some of us recuperating in the Spaniard afterwards.

Left to right: Kathleen, who we’re losing to her native Canada now she’s finished her studies at Queen’s, soprano; Julie, soprano; Róisín, our teacher, musical director and inspiration; me, tenor; Piotr, tenor; Brian, whose son is in top local band Cashier No. 9, bass; and Anne, alto. Roll on the return of the regular class!

Singing class

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24th Mar 2011

Skyrocket

I’ve knocked together a wee fan video for a favourite song of mine, the “Free Bird” of the didgeridoo: “Skyrocket” by the great 90s Belfast band Watercress.

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17th Jul 2010

A couple of songs

I recently found recordings on my computer of me performing a couple of Jake Thackray songs:

Over to Isabel (Je rejoindrai ma belle) – Thackray’s translation/adaptation of a Georges Brassens song

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Sophie

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Hope you enjoy ’em.

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26th Mar 2009

On stuff

Firstly, Scott Meyer’s Basic Instructions is bloody good this week.

Secondly, Pádraig Ó Méalóid has posted scans of the complete third issue of Big Numbers!  I believe this is the issue that Bill Sienkiewicz, exhausted from the first two issues, drew in a drastically stripped-down style before quitting the series, rather than the version that Al Columbia (allegedly) painted and then destroyed.  Pádraig has sought, and got, the blessing of the big beardy fellow to post the scans, but it’d be interesting to know what the two artists thought…

Thirdly, Jake Thackray was a genius.  My mum and dad used to listen to him when I was small, and I remember them letting me listen to a song of his called “The Hole” (there weren’t many of his songs suitable for children) and finding it amusing.  So on a whim I purchase his 4-CD set Jake in a Box and his live double CD Live Performance, and by god he was good.  He’s best known for his funny songs, but there’s a whole lot more to him than that.  One I’m quite taken with is “The Little Black Foal”, which on first impression sounds like a rather sweet folk song about a foal clip-clopping along, then becomes a very perceptive song about infatuation, and finally leaves you wondering what the narrator actually did with the girl he met last night whose name he can’t remember, and why he’s so keen to avoid meeting other members of her family.  But it’s not on YouTube, so here’s “The Bull” instead.

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