With support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, that’s the challenge which we set for two of our finest singer-songwriters, Gareth Dunlop and Jealous of the Birds, earlier this year.
Here’s how they went about it:
“After accepting the commission, one of the first things I did was research songs that other artists had written about Belfast. This led me to highly politicised ballads and pop songs that still framed Belfast within the context of the Troubles. My approach to writing ‘Belfast Song’ was to relinquish that baggage and reflect a more modern, progressive side to this city, while still being respectful of its history.
On the side of the Garrick Bar are the words, “A nation that keeps one eye on the past is wise. A nation that keeps two eyes on the past is blind.” That feels as relevant as ever. When I spoke to friends and family about the commission, everyone agreed that people here are tired of having their home city frozen in time as a conflict zone. This song is my effort to capture the thrum, the pulse and the warmth of a place that’s nurtured my early adulthood and career in music.” – Jealous of the Birds
“I’ve had the luxury of touring all over the world and I’ve spent time in some incredible cities, writing and recording. When it came to writing about home, the most natural place to pull from was how much I miss it when I’m away from it. The people, the sights, the scenery and the intangible edge it has.
It took me to spend so much time away from Belfast to really appreciate how special the city is. The Covid-19 pandemic afforded me the chance to be home for an unusually long period of time and really fall deeper for all it has to offer.” – Gareth Dunlop
Hear the results of Jealous of the Birds and Gareth’s creative endeavours as part of their double-header full sets in ‘True North’ at Sound of Belfast, Oh Yeah, 7.30pm on Thursday 4 November.
If you were looking for the right person to host a musical walking tour of Belfast, then someone who jumped up on stage in the Ulster Hall in 1978 and played drums to ‘Peaches’ with The Stranglers would probably fit the bill!
Live music has always played a big part in budding tour guide Dolores Vischer’s life – and still does. Growing up between Donegal and Belfast, she loved widely differing genres of music – from the vibrant Irish trad scene in Donegal, where she learned bodhran, to the thrill of raw punk gigs in Belfast’s Harp Bar in the late 1970s. She also plays the drums, (which is where her Stranglers claim to fame comes in!)
More recently, Dolores joined a band after signing up to Oh Yeah’s Girls Rock School NI programme in 2018. She’s currently part of the Over the Hill Music Collective and recently recorded a song she wrote for a new OTH album that’s in the pipeline. On top of that she enjoys singing and performing in the Cathedral Quarter Choir.
During lockdown, Dolores decided to explore her interest in becoming a tour guide and has almost completed the course to become a qualified Belfast Green Badge Tourist Guide. Speaking about the forthcoming Belfast Music Tour taking place as part of Sound of Belfast festival, Dolores says:
“I love supporting local bands and it’s great now to be able to get back out to gigs again. Belfast has such a rich music heritage and so much talent, past and present, I just want to share my passion and for people to enjoy themselves.”
Starting out at the Ulster Hall, the tour will explore some of the venues that are important in our musical history. Find out about some of the characters down the years who’ve shaped our music culture, and acknowledge some of the talented people taking it forward today. Hear about the festivals our city is home to and end with a visit to Belfast’s own dedicated music hub, the Oh Yeah Centre! After browsing the Music Exhibition, relax over a pint and enjoy an acoustic set by a future star!
Tickets for Belfast – A City of Music (Guided Walking Tour) are £15, including the walk, pint and live music at the Oh Yeah Centre.
Wednesday 17th November Live at the Ulster Hall and Streaming on YouTube Celebrating a year of music from NI
The Oh Yeah Music Centre has announced details of this year’s NI Music Prize event and line up.
After a year away from the stage due to Covid-19, the event will return to the Ulster Hall on November 17th. The Prize which honours and celebrates the very best of new, established and emerging Northern Irish music is an annual awards night organised by the Oh Yeah Music Centre.
The evening will include performances from shortlisted artists including Amy Montgomery, Dani Larkin, New Pagans and TRÚ.
The show will also feature guest performances from Ryan McMullan and Ash, plus Sasha Samara will perform as last year’s winner of the BBC ATL Introducing Contender Award.
Rigsy (DJ & Broadcaster) and Gemma Bradley (Presenter, BBC Radio 1 Introducing and ATL) will present the show. There will be guest contributors, with live announcements and presentations.
The awards include Best Album supported by PPL, Best Single sponsored by YouTube Music and ATL Introducing Contender Award in association with Oh Yeah.The winners of Best Single and ATL Introducing Contender Award will be awarded a cash prize of £1,000 and £3,000 will go to the winner of Best Album.
This year the event will also celebrate the work of Help Musicians to thank the charity for the support it has given to musicians throughout the pandemic. Help Musicians is a charity that loves music and for 100 years has been working hard to make a meaningful difference to the lives of musicians across the UK. Sadly, the pandemic has meant it’s been needed more than ever. Since March 2020, the charity has provided financial hardship funding to help musicians survive while live music was paused; this monthly support helped nearly 800 musicians in NI. Moving forwards, Help Musicians is increasing its practical help to support musicians back into work.
Commenting on this year’s event, Charlotte Dryden from Oh Yeah said: “It has been a long and challenging twelve months for musicians. That is why this year is such an important coming together, not just to celebrate the great wealth of talent that has produced world-class records throughout the pandemic, but also to thank and let the music community take a moment to reflect, start to rebuild and look to the future. It’s going to be a very special evening indeed.”
Dan Chalmers, Director of YouTube Music EMEA said: “Supporting new musicians has never been so important after the very difficult times we have been through and with access to live music challenged. We are proud to sponsor such an important moment celebrating the best music coming out of Northern Ireland and we look forward to an especially poignant and celebratory event”.
The NI Music Prize takes part during the annual Sound of Belfast, a festival that celebrates the music of the city, from grassroots to established names. It runs 4th – 18th Nov and there are over 50 events in 11 venues featuring 56 artists. All events can be found at www.soundofbelfast.com
NI Music Prize and Sound of Belfast is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, YouTube Music, PRS Foundation, PPL and PRS.
A very limited number of tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday 22nd October from The Ulster Hall.
NI Music Prize Shortlist
Best Album 2021 – Supported by PPL
Andrew McGibbon – Northern Gothic Arvo Party Inheritance – Arvo Party Bicep – Isles CATALAN! – Veritas Dani Larkin – Notes for a Maiden Warrior Hannah Peel – Fir Wave Jealous of the Birds – Peninsula Joshua Burnside – Into The Depths Of Hell New Pagans – The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots & All Peter J McCauley – Amnesty Saint Sister – Where I Should End This Ship Argo – Always the Bees: Never the Honey TRÚ – No Fixed Abode VerseChorusVerse – What If We Won
Best Single 2021 – Sponsored by YouTube Music
Amy Montgomery – Intangible Bicep – Apricots Cherym – Listening To My Head Dea Matrona – Stamp On It Enola Gay – Sofa Surfing Invaderband – I Won’t Remember You Jordan Adetunji – Wokeup! Waldorf & Cannon – We Are Your Government
The Oh Yeah Music Centre is delighted to reveal that the five fresh new acts that have been selected for Scratch My Progress 2021 are; Myles McCormack, Susi Pagel, Problem Patterns, Jack Devlin and Charlie Hanlon. Paragraph
Scratch My Progress is a mentoring, showcase and practical support programme for new music. The dedicated talent development programme, now in its 10th year is powered by the on-going support of PRS Foundation. Oh Yeah is also delighted to be working with YouTube Music, a partnership that will provide participating artists with a new level of support through a series of dedicated master classes and more.
Over the next nine months the five acts will work with our dedicated Talent Development Manager, Charlene Hegarty, to uncover opportunities for their music and take part in workshops, studio time, professional photo shoots, showcases, industry mentoring and more
With the ongoing situation surrounding the partial closure of live music and events in mind, there will also be increased support in developing digital skills in artist promotion, performance and development of online audiences.
Over the years our talent development artists have had one to one sessions with PRS, PPL, PRSF, Musicians Union, First Music Contact, Atlantic Records (Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX), Parlophone Records (Gorillaz), Domino Records (Anna Calvi, Arctic Monkeys), Jeff Robinson PR (The 1975, Belsonic), Deezer, Ditto, Body & Soul Festival and many more. The Scratch My Progress scheme has mentored a diverse range of talent over the years including NI Music Prize Winners Kitt Philippa, Sasha Samara and Sister Ghost, music and media personalities Gemma Bradley & Emer Maguire and artists representing the rock, alternative, acoustic, rap, pop, punk and electronic genres.
“I am proud to welcome Problem Patterns, Susi Pagel, Charlie Hanlon, Jack Devlin and Myles McCormack on to Scratch My Progress 2021. The last 18-months have been deeply distressing for musicians but I am assured through the talent and energies of the artists on this year’s programme that there is good reason to be hopeful. I am excited to work with each of them and help them build strong foundations for long lasting and fulfilling careers in the music industry.”
Further Information on each act:
Belfast based musician Myles McCormack occupies a very special place within the Irish music community. He writes beautiful, intricate and delicate songs. He is an active collaborator, a unique and versatile songwriter.
Myles McCormack Quote
“I’m really excited for everyone on the Scratch program this year and just keen to learn as much as I can from Charlene and everyone at the Oh Yeah centre. Having this support will maybe encourage me to push my music further too!”
Myles McCormack Biog
Belfast based musician Myles McCormack occupies a very special place within the Irish music community. Beyond his work as a founding member of innovative folk outfit Lonesome George, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist crafts careful, considered tales under his own name. His 2019 debut ‘Real Talk’ was released to a sold out audience in Belfast’s Duncairn Arts Centre and was described as “A sublime and carefully crafted debut” (The Thin Air). Through his work across this project and Lonesome George (“Caustic lyrics that burn with righteous dignity” Songlines 4*) he continues to hone his style as a unique and versatile songwriter. Further demonstrating this Myles began 2020 singing and playing mandolin with Irish traditional group Réalta on the spring leg of their US tour.
Over the past year Myles has worked on new music including various single releases, (One Day, The River Rises, By Demons), new Lonesome George songs (The Lying Devil, No One But Ourselves) and is currently collaborating on new recordings with Réalta.
Susi Pagel is a Belfast based singer-songwriter experimenting in hyper pop spaces. Her honest indie pop is reminiscent of Chvrches and Melanie Martinez, garnering listeners locally with support slots for bands such as Saint Sapphire.
Susi Pagel Quote:
“I still can’t believe I was chosen for the program, I feel so lucky and grateful to be gaining such valuable experience whilst meeting such incredible people and professionals.”
Susi Pagel Biog:
Susi Pagel, based in Belfast, is a singer-songwriter who has been writing for over four years. Her honest indie pop is reminiscent of Chvrches and Melanie Martinez, garnering listeners locally with support slots for bands such as Saint Sapphire. Her debut single ‘Yesterday’ was named as ‘Best Song In The World This Week’ on BBC Across The Line following its release in March 2020. September saw the release of ‘Pretty Girl’, and Susi continues to reach a wider audience through live stream gigs as she works towards her debut EP.
Jack Devlin is a singer-songwriter from a small village called Hilltown. His songs explore life and live experiences – he delivers his songs with a raw emotion that immediately draws you in. He has a range of influences including Paolo Nutini, Jeff Buckley and Ben Howard.
Jack Devlin Quote:
“I am super buzzed to be a part of the Scratch My Progress program,
I’ve already heard great things about this with lots of great NI acts coming out of the program.
Getting to learn about the big bad music industry and how to make a pathway in my music career is very exciting, along with all the other cool bits that come with it.
We just had our first meet up, It seems like I’m going to be working alongside some deadly people, safe to say I’m delighted.”
Jack Devlin Biog:
Jack Devlin holds the attention of any crowd, with a magnetic stage presence and undeniable energetic talent. He is a young singer songwriter with dynamic original music, exploring raw emotions that life brings, performing with passion and expression both acoustically and with a full band.
Regularly playing venues across Ireland, Jack headlines original gigs recently selling out the Sunflower Bar Belfast and plays impressive festival slots. Gathering loyal fans, Jack has supported high class Irish and international acts, such as David Keenan and Hermitage Green. His music is reminiscent of Paolo Nutini, Jeff Buckley, Kings of Leon, the Killers and Ben Howard, among others.
Jack has created an individually distinctive sound, with a raw full vocal that dips and soars. Exploring the genres of Folk, rock, indie and pop, resulting in a varied and unique music catalogue. Co-writing with other brilliant local artists, Jack encouraged and founded several original music nights such as ‘Evening Noise’.
Charlie Hanlon is a 16-year-old multi-instrumentalist from the small Irish town, Downpatrick. He is a young indie pop icon in the making who has been steadily collecting fans since releasing his first demo on Soundcloud in early 2020.
Charlie Hanlon Quote:
“I am buzzing to be a part of ‘scratch my progress ‘this year, A lot of really cool artists have done it in the past and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this year’s group with some really great artists. Can’t wait to begin working with Scratch!”
Charlie Hanlon Biog:
Charlie Hanlon is a 16-year-old Indie pop artist and multi-instrumentalist from the small Irish town Downpatrick.
His music initially gained traction after releasing the demo for his track ‘I lost Myself’ on SoundCloud in January 2020. The demo was picked up by BBC music introducing and was handpicked by Taylor Johnson of Brand New Friend to be a world exclusive on the BBC show ‘Across the Line’. This introduced a whole new audience to Hanlon’s brand of indie pop. Later on, in 2020 the demo for his upcoming single was also picked as a world exclusive on the same show by Taylor Johnson once again, which brought more eyes to Charlie’s music.
In October 2020 at the age of 15 he released his debut single ‘Will You Stay Tonight?’ In which he played every instrument on himself. The single achieved some success landing onto playlists such as Alfie Templeman’s New music Friday playlist, oh yeah centres Current Northern Ireland playlist and Belfast music Recommends playlist, Chord blossoms Fresh music from Northern Ireland playlist and Indie buddies Indie quick picks playlist. Around the same time Charlie also did a live stream performance from the oh yeah music centre in Belfast for sound of Belfast 2020 and the clash of the new breeds final.
Now in 2021 Charlie has been featured on BBC across the line once again after the demo for his track ‘Lo and Hi’ was played by Radio 1 presenter Gemma Bradley and has released his second single ‘Kids Today’ in which Hanlon takes on all musical instrument duties again and also teamed up with Indie legend Michael Mormecha on production duties. The song came out on August 20th 2021 and is available to stream now on all major platforms.’
Problem Patterns is a four-piece DIY feminist queerpunk band from Belfast, Northern Ireland, comprised of Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks, Ciara King and Alanah Smith. The band does not have a singular frontperson, opting instead to switch roles and instruments, to ensure each member in the group has a voice.
Problem Patterns Quote:
“We are so appreciative to be taking part in Scratch My Progress this year. We are keen to learn, grow and smash everything that’s thrown at us. We are definitely already the big kids of this year and we can’t wait to see what happens. This opportunity is amazing for us as a DIY band and we are buzzing to work alongside Charlene!”
Problem Patterns Biog:
Problem Patterns is a four-piece DIY feminist queerpunk band from Belfast, Northern Ireland, comprised of Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks, Ciara King and Alanah Smith. The band does not have a singular frontperson, opting instead to switch roles and instruments, to ensure each member in the group has a voice. Formed in November 2018, their debut single, “Allegedly”, was recorded and released within their first month together. They released their debut EP, ‘Good For You, Aren’t You Great?’ in July 2019. They have received airplay on BBC Radio Ulster, RTÉ 2FM and KEXP. Known for their ferocious live performances, the band were nominated for Best Live Act at the Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2020, with two consecutive nominations for the Oh Yeah Contender Award in 2019 and 2020.
4. How do you most like to listen to music – on vinyl, CD, cassette, streaming or a combination?
Spotify when I am working or I am out and about but at home it has to be Vinyl, especially while eating with others.
5. What’s the most unusual piece of band/artist merchandise you own?
I have a T-shirt that I got when I saw Milky Chance in Amsterdam in Jan 2020. The band had let fans know that they wouldn’t be travelling with Merch on their European tour in order to have an environmentally responsible approach to sustainable touring… BUT that fans could bring their own items of clothing to be printed at the show for a small fee! It was such a brilliant idea and I was able to pick the print I wanted and have it made there and then at the gig on a t-shirt I brought with me. I think it should be the way forward for all touring acts and I treasure the T-shirt because it feels very personal.
6. What’s your go-to song for karaoke or singing in the car?
Karaoke – Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
Singing in the Car – (because no one can hear me) Florence and The Machine – Dog Days Are Over.
7. What album would you save if your house blew down and why?
Milky Chance – Sadnecessary on vinyl. It’s the album my partner and I listen to the most and the first one I ever bought him. Every song holds a different memory.
8. What artists (alive or dead) would be in your dream band line-up?
You cannot improve upon Amy Winehouse singing with The Specials in my book…. maybe if you stick Rory Gallagher in there.
9. If you could meet your favourite all-time artist, who would it be and what would you say to them?
I would meet Lauryn Hill and I would ask her to tell me her life story from start to end.
10. What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
An old Irish song – Líontar Dúinn an Cruiscín by Seán Bán Mac Grianna and sung by a friend. It’s about all sorts of aspects of life and it goes on a bit, (just like me – ha ha!). But the last verse is about your death and your loved ones grief. It has a calm feeling to the verse rather than being morbid; you tell them to drink and sing so loud that you hear their voices. I love that thought.
To find out more about Youth projects at Oh Yeah, email email@example.com
Please note: We will be closed on Monday 30th August 2021.
Oh Yeah Music Centre is delighted to announce that we will be proceeding with the next phase of our reopening plans on Monday 23rd August.
The award winning NI Music Exhibition at Oh Yeah will once again be open for visitors after being shut for almost 18 months due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
We’ve made some changes to your visiting experience in to make your visit is as safe and enjoyable as possible. All the relevant info follows below.
The NI Music exhibition at Oh Yeah is the only permanent exhibit for popular music in Northern Ireland. There is much to see, including a series of storyboards documenting and plotting the history and the stories of Folk, Punk, Rock, Jazz and more. There is a ‘Legends’ series of wall displays that hail the great achievers including Ruby Murray, Van Morrison, Terri Hooley, Bap Kennedy, David McWilliams and Henry McCullough to name a few. Exhibition cases display some unique rock and roll memorabilia including the Fender Guitar that Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol used to write ‘Run’ and ‘Chasing Cars’, a vintage street sign of Cyprus Avenue, made famous in a Van Morrison song, and a specially arranged exhibit of Gary Moore memorabilia.
Earlier this year with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and in preparation for the reopening we put together a short film about the exhibition, the music story and our music bus tour. You can watch it below, then come visit the real thing!
Please see below for full details of the processes we’ve put in place. We have undertaken full risk assessments and our staff and volunteers have been briefed and trained on procedures.
Maximum group size of 6 people* Exhibition limited to 2 groups at any one time Track and trace details taken upon entry Please wash or sanitize hands upon entry Visitors must wear a mask in public areas Please maintain social distancing throughout Areas are frequently cleaned Toilets opened and regularly cleaned Contactless payments preferred
*For groups larger than 6 please contact us in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scratch My Progress is the Oh Yeah Music Centre’s annual talent development scheme. Since 2010, 44+ acts have benefited from the Scratch My Progress scheme, with Oh Yeah mentors dedicated to developing, supporting, signposting, nurturing and promoting local musical talent to international change makers.
Applications are now open for the class of 2021/22 and we are expecting more applications than ever before given the sustained success of our alumnus including;
– Kitt Philippa who won ‘Album of the Year’ at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2020 and has since signed a record deal with Paragon Records and Faber Alt.
– Sasha Samara who won the ‘Contender’ award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2020
– Gemma Bradley who is now the UK National Radio broadcaster for BBC Introducing…
– Lemonade Shoelace who scored a ‘sync’ on Made In Chelsea and spins on BBC, RTE and KEXP
– Riley Holland who achieved 10K+ spins on her single in 3-weeks !!!!
We are looking for the most dedicated emerging talents to harness the full opportunity of the scheme.
Full details, guidelines and application form available on the following link; bit.ly/2VfWXdf
Artists/acts must be aged 16 and over to apply. See link for full application process.
Deadline for submissions is Monday 2nd August @ 6pm !!
Aged 13-18. Do you want to meet new young people, write a song and learn how to perform? This camp is supported by the T:BUC fund – Together Building United Communities which is funded by the Executive Office of Northern Ireland and the Education Authority of Northern Ireland.
——————————————————- CAMP INFORMATION ——————————————————- WHEN: The dates for the camp are: Pre-Camp Sessions Friday 23rd July Friday 30th July Camp: Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th August 10-4pm Post-Camp Sessions: Friday 20th August Saturday 11th September
WHERE: Oh Yeah Music Centre, 15-21 Gordon Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG (dependent on any change in restrictions).
COST: £10 (the cost of your place has been generously subsidised by T:BUC funding but we require a contribution to £10 to secure your place).
*Attendance at pre-camp and post-camp sessions are mandatory to confirm your place.*If you want to take part you will need to fill out this form. There are limited spaces, so we will work a first come, first serve and then have a waiting list.
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