Sunday 17th was yet another excellent evening at the sessions.  We had a great turnout and the audience was well rewarded with high class performances by all the artists.

David McCann

David McCann started the evening off with a selection of his beautifully written songs. A self confessed lover of fairy tales he took the audience through stories inspired by the 1001 nights (dealing with carpet cleaning) with allusions to Edward Lear’s Owl and the Pussycat and strange proclivities towards female meteorologists, all given the unique McCann flavour. David has been compared to artists such as Ralph McTell and whilst at times there are hints of other influences he is of course his own man and much younger. He also performed his excellent instrumental “Wedding Dances”  pointing out to the audience that as it was an instrumental he would not be singing and he was accurate in that prediction.

The highlight of David’s near perfect set came just before the end when he fell off the back of the stage and it was only through the timely intervention of his friend and carer Steve Amos that a major accident was avoided.

Edelle McMahon

It was great to have Edelle McMahon back at the sessions, asked at short notice to perform because one of the originally billed performers dropped out at the last minute

Edelle stepped bravely into the breach and sang a selection of beautiful songs many of which she had co-written with Jim Johnson, one in a language that even she could not understand. Edelle is renowned for singing songs in which people die tragically, accidentally or even terminally and rivals Die Hard 2 and 3 in the number of people she can bump off in even a short set. Tonight however she seemed to be a little less lethal and the death toll was lower, albeit the maiming count was above her average.

Camel Hatt

Catherine aka Camel Hatt performed next in a solo capacity and treated us to a selection of, at times, too short songs with sweet almost childlike lyrics which also contained some more mature themes and messages, a good example being her song “Control”. Multi instrumentalist she played a sky blue guitar, keyboard and ukulele. Husband Geoff joined her for one song reproducing as a live performance a song that had only been performed in the studio including bubble noises produced with a glass of water and a straw and a thumb piano.

Geoff Hatt and the Rockpool Band

Geoff Hatt and the Rockpool Band finished off the evening with a varied repertoire of Geoff’s songs. Geoff adds a new dimension to song writing introducing musical theatre themes and plenty of zany humour as well as thoughtful insights on life. Geoff, like his wife, also plays keyboard, guitar and ukulele and we were given a selection of styles from rock and roll, rock and droll and even one in which he played the parts of three hillbilly brothers. His final song, “Absolute Shocker”, incorporating a frighteningly accurate Terry Thomas impersonation was a fitting end to an extremely entertaining evening.


We were very pleased to have another strong line up on Sunday

Sorcha & Hannah

Sorcha and Hannah appeared for the first time at the Sessions. They had been scheduled to appear the week before but had to withdraw because of illness. Fortunately the illness was shortlived and we were treated to a selection of self penned songs and a couple of covers all of which benefited from their beautiful harmonies. They have been together for only a short length of time but the performance showed great maturity and a lot of talent

Jim McClean

Next up was Jim McClean, playing for the fourth time at the sessions. Jim presented the (very enthusiastic) audience with a selection of his earlier work including the well known “Lagan Lullaby”, songs from his recently released Cosmic Nomad CD, which was launched at the Sessions before Christmas  and even newer work. We were very happy to welcome him back.

Rory Nellis

Rory was also a returning artist to the Sessions having last played in October and presented a number of songs from his forthcoming EP (which should be available on Bandcamp now) as well as a couple of covers from local musicians. It was a great pleasure to have him back giving us the opportunity to enjoy his songs.  Rory’s performance diplayed considerable talents in a number of areas; immaculate songwriting, impressive guitar playing and a vocal delivery that was heartfelt and powerful.

Nathan Reid

And finally Nathan Reid, also returning to the Sessions for the fourth time.  Since last playing for us it’s good to report that Nathan has been making great progress with his unique percussive style of guitar playing. He has spent time in Europe studying with Pierre Bensusan and collaborating with other guitarists and in April will embark on a European Tour.  Nathan’s playing style is captivating and everyone in the audience was in awe of the range of sounds and effects he was able to produce from a simple acoustic guitar. A great writer and performer, with even greater potential.

3rd February 2013 at the Lagan Sessions

3rd February 2013 at the Lagan Sessions

Sunday saw the Lagan Sessions enjoying one of its best evenings to date (and with the acts we’ve previously had, that’s really saying something).

First up was the irreverent Steve Amos.  Steve had the audience’s attention right from the start and held it (between guffaws) right the way through his set.  There wasn’t a dry ear in the house as Steve spun his sweet and sour stories of truck-stop love, tender prison relationships and winter horticulture.  The audience, largely new to Steve’s style, were pleasantly shocked at every turn and gave him a rousing ovation at the end of his set.  Watch out for Steve playing a not-to-be-missed comedy gig with Ursula Burns and Stephen Hall at the Belfast Nashville Festival on Wednesday 20th March in the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue.

The second performer of the evening was Sara Crockett.  As a young Belfast Based singer songwriter Sara writes songs that have a maturity and depth which belie her years. The pre-event publicity stated that she takes influences from artists like Miranda Lambert, and Dixie Chicks, and Steve Amos swore he could also hear a bit of Taylor Swift (but that might just be a strange fantasy of his).  Whatever influences you may or may not hear she is a very impressive young singer songwriter who thoroughly justifies her appearance at the Belfast Nashville Festival supporting the legendary Nanci Griffith. Her first album is due to be released this spring and is not one to be missed. You can also find her single “Hide and Seek” on Youtube.

The third act saw the very welcome return of Matt McGinn, one of the finest writers and performers in the country.  Matt’s self-deprecating humour and his wry story-telling only enhanced the fragile beauty of his songs on Sunday night.  He treated us to a batch of new songs from his forthcoming album, many of them collaborations with other up-and-coming songwriters he has met on his travels, including the talented Canadian Madeleine Slate.  He played “World of Time” and “You Have Your Dreams”, the “A” and “B” side of his new single.  Check them out on bandcamp, and tide yourself over until the release of his new album in March.  “You have your Dreams” is a poignant air in 3/4 time with a haunting arrangement that really caught my attention.  Matt’s set went down an absolute storm with a rapt and fortunate audience.  Catch Matt on Saturday the 23rd February at the Belfast Nashville Festival.

Last up was Suzanne Savage.  Those of you who aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s music, all I can say is, do yourself an enormous favour and start now.  Her performance at the Lagan Sessions was completely electrifying and you could feel the excitement in the room grow from song to song, with elements of jazz, rock and Irish traditional all mixed together in her own songs and sung with one of the finest voices I’ve ever heard.  Highlight of the night for me was her rendition of her own composition “The Violin Song” where she jumped off the stage and sang and played to us without amplification.  Pin drop time.  Even the glass-washing machine at the bar paused to catch its breath.  Suzanne leaves these shore to tour America and Germany shortly, but, when she comes back in March look out for her at a venue near you.  We were a very lucky bunch on Sunday and it was a gig we won’t forget in a hurry.

Having these four performers all playing on one evening was a real and rare treat.  More of this kind of thing please!

Thanks to Joanne Ham for the great photographs.