Collaborator: A work in progress by Daniel Kitson (rescheduled)

I dislike audience participation. I think It’s creatively bankrupt, ethically questionable and if I see it mentioned in the blurb for a show, I will not attend due to moral objections and/or personal discomfort.

Anyway. I’ve written something about that and it’s got just over 200 parts. So…

Collaborator was conceived specifically to be performed in the round and is re-written a bit for each particular venue. This will be something between the 4th and 7th staging and maybe the eighth rewrite and,I have to say, it’s getting quite good.

Joel Harkin – Artist in Residence

We’re delighted to announce Joel Harkin as our CQAF 2024 Artist in Residence. Joel is a singer of songs and a spinner of yarns from County Donegal. His 2020 album Never Happy was shortlisted for the NI Music Prize and is one of the standout Irish releases in recent years.

Joel Harkin lies awake at night, terrified at the prospect of the looming abyss. He channels these fears into his haunting songs. But don’t let that put you off. He is known for the contrast between his music and the whimsical, surrealist and very funny chatting he does as he tunes his guitar.

Joel will be supporting several artists throughout the festival and will headline his own show on Sunday 12 May at the Deer’s Head. (8.00pm) with some special guest Robyn Maddox.

Robyn Maddox is an alternative singer-songwriter based in Belfast. In May 2023, she released her debut EP, ‘Midnight-15’, a concept EP exploring themes of self-discovery, love, loss, and learning to find solace in solitude. With lyrics that marry surreal stories and raw, intimate songwriting, her airy vocals draw listeners into her fantastical world; from smoky, shimmery casinos to phantasmagoric encounters with her conscience to conversations with the cosmos.


Robert Finley

We’re thrilled to present this first ever Irish show by the 69 years young, ‘rising star’ whose Dan Auerbach-produced album Black Bayou. is an 11-track tour de force that coalesces gospel, blues, soul, and rock into a raw, thundering tribute to Finley’s home state of Louisiana.

Telling tales of the bayou from childhood to now, Finley takes listeners on a journey that showcases his growly vocals, sultry falsetto and cements him as a living legend.

Auerbach leads a band of some of the finest players around: drummers Patrick Carney (The Black Keys) and Jeffrey Clemens (G. Love & Special Sauce), bassist Eric Deaton, and legendary Hill Country blues guitarist Kenny Brown.

Black Bayou is a portrait of North Louisiana from an insider who’s lived there all his life. It coalesces all of the vibrant genres bubbling in the bayou from southern soul, jazz, folk, blues, rock and roll and more.

A vivid collection of songs that depict life in North Louisiana, with Finley playing the role of charismatic and knowledgeable tour guide. Tales include surviving the jaws of an alligator on “Alligator Bait,” a true story of his grandfather using him as bait to catch an alligator when he was a child. Songs like “Miss Kitty,” a tale of lust and love are an instant induction into the canon of the blues tradition. In all, a collection set to establish Finley as perhaps one of the last true bluesmen of our time and a truly original Louisiana storyteller who evokes the place and its unique culture for the rest of the world.

Black Bayou has already been heaped with praise from SPIN, The FADER, American Songwriter, UNCUT, Paste, MOJO, Brooklyn Vegan and a slew of other outlets, including The Bluegrass Situation who have hailed Finley as their Artist of the Month for November.

 ‘Black Bayou is definitive Robert Finley—a master musician and entertainer—taking all his bluesy swagger up a notch, a bigger sound with heavier grooves, full confirmation that Robert Finley only gets better with time.”  SPIN

“Black Bayou’s swampier blues and subtler arrangements offer a versatile range of material that reveals the wide expanse of his vocal prowess.” No Depression

“The 11-track album, a portrait of a life that comes together in strokes of gospel, blues, and rock and roll, is simple, relatable, and wise, but above all honest.” American Songwriter

“Black Bayou is surely the album Finley was put on Earth to create, filled with stories only he could tell. 5 STAR REVIEW” Mojo Magazine

“Approaching his eighth decade, then, and with no shortage of tall tales to impart, Robert Finley’s work here is clearly just getting started.” Uncut

“Funky, bluesy… Fueled by Robert’s soulful Southern grit”  Brooklyn Vegan

“In no short terms, Finley’s journey thus far has been nothing short of mythical.” 


Tom Robinson: Up Close & Personal

Musician and broadcaster Tom Robinson presents an evening of songs and stories spanning five decades of adventures in the music industry.

Tom’s musical journey began in 1974 when his first band was discovered by Ray Davies, and included a BBC ban for being Glad To be Gay, rocking against racism alongside The Clash, headlining Glastonbury with Peter Gabriel, writing lyrics for Elton John, drug smuggling in East Germany, two nervous breakdowns and a period in tabloid hell after falling in love with a woman.

Having made his peace with the BBC, he’s presented programmes on all the corporation’s national radio networks, and his broadcasting work has won two Sony Radio Academy awards.

Expect intimate versions of classics such as War Baby, Glad To Be Gay and 2-4-6-8 Motorway alongside stories from behind the scenes and a sprinkling of fan favourites from his extensive back catalogue.

Hole: Live Through This – A Celebration

Join us at the Oh Yeah Music Centre for a night of ‘bone-deep rage and syrupy hooks’ celebrating 30 years since the groundbreaking release of Hole’s iconic album Live Through This.

The album encapsulates the journey of survival amidst adversity and we have invited Sister Ghost, Susi Pagel and Aqua Tofana to offer their take in a night centred around recreation and reimagination of a seminal work.

Expect a fusion of raw energy, emotive storytelling, and unbridled passion, echoing the album’s themes of endurance and resilience.


Directed by Hildegard Ryan and performed by Eva O’Connor

A chicken’s brain is the size of a walnut. But their hearts are as big as the universe. A play about love, fate, delicious white meat, and adventure.

There’s a chicken in the Ulster Sports Club and she’s dying to meet you. From the makers of MUSTARD (Scotsman Fringe First Winner 2019, Adelaide Critic’s Circle Winner 2023).

‘What a privilege to see this … if you want to see a bit of real theatre, go see Mustard.’ Scotsman ★★★★

‘Eva O’Connor has a fierce presence, as hot, fiery and burning as the mustard of her play… ‘ ★★★★★ Ed Fest Mag

Age: 14 plus


Clifton Street Cemetery Tour

Step back in time as you enter through the gates of Clifton Street Cemetery, opened by the Belfast Charitable Society in 1797 which catered to all of the citizens of Belfast.

Visit the graves of radicals and reformers from a time when Belfast was the Athens of the North as well as the final resting places of the industrial giants who help to shape Belfast into a global powerhouse.

Wealthy merchants and professionals purchased the Walled Plots, with many showing off their wealth through elaborate memorials and mausoleums.

Your tour guide will tell you tales of bodysnatching and the thousands of souls who lie in unmarked graves. Some lived out their final days in the Poor House; others died without friends to bury them and there are those who tragically lost their lives in the 1832 cholera epidemic and the Irish Potato Famine.

The highlight of the tour is the McCracken family grave where Mary Ann McCracken, the renowned abolitionist, philanthropist and reformer, was laid to rest at the spectacular age of 96.

All human life rests in Clifton Street Cemetery. Come and discover the stories for yourself!

Planning your visit:

Tours meet at Clifton House before proceeding to the cemetery

Please arrive 10 minutes before the start of your tour

Guided tours last approx. 1 hour

Sinéad Gleeson in Conversation

Sinéad Gleeson, beloved, Irish no. 1 bestselling author joins us in conversation with Wendy Erskine about her haunting debut novel.

Haunting and insidiously eerie, Gleeson’s mesmerising debut ‘Hagstone’ finds an artist resident on a secluded island receiving a commission from a mysterious commune called the Inions.  The sea is steady for now. The land readies itself. What can be done with the woman on the cliff?

On a wild and rugged island cut off and isolated to some, artist Nell feels the island is her home. It is the source of inspiration for her art, rooted in landscape, folklore and the feminine. The mysterious Inions, a commune of women who have travelled there from all over the world, consider it a place of refuge and safety, of solace in nature.

Sinéad Gleeson is a literary sensation. Sinéad has been celebrated at home and internationally for her award-winning memoir Constellations: Reflections From Life and This Woman’s Work, a collection of essays on music, co-edited with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.

‘Intelligent, probing’  MAGGIE O’FARRELL 

‘Wild, singular… gripped me from the start’  DOUGLAS STUART 

‘A gorgeous, mysterious read’ AISLING BEA

Mick Flannery

“Mick Flannery has a voice for the ages, a complete Master of his craft” proclaimed Clash Magazine, whilst The Sunday Times said he “conjures up exquisite story-telling.”

His latest offering Goodtime Charlie, Flannery’s eighth studio record, went straight to No. 1 at home in Ireland on the independent charts, and No. 2 on the Official Charts, making it his sixth top 5 record to date, With 3 Number 1 records already under his belt, Goodtime Charlie is also the first international signing for John Prine’s beloved Oh Boy Records.

Mick Flannery’s songs are fluent in expressing layered aspects of the human condition, its flaws, triumphs, and general uncertainty.  His live shows are renowned for his self-deprecating humour, audience engagement and the ability to bring people on a journey of both heartbreak and joy, often in the same instance.

Mick has built up a reputation over the past decade as one of Ireland hardest working musicians, touring extensively at home and in more recent years abroad as his songs have been reaching folks farther afield. Ireland’s best kept secret appears to be no more.

Lau (Unplugged)

Lau present their Unplugged show, a concert of two halves in which they return to their instruments’ natural soundscapes for an evening’s exploration of re-arranged and re-created material from across their catalogue. A stripped down performance without pedalboards or electronics, just voice, fiddle, guitar and accordion, and a 4 track tape recorder.

Kris Drever (guitar and vocals), Martin Green (accordion, Wurlitzer, keys, electronics) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle) are back to present music that is complex, accessible, challenging, comforting and delivered with spiritual conviction.

They come from the legendary melting pot of the Edinburgh trad scene at the turn of the century and have created a mix from the fabric of Scottish and Irish musical heritage, progressive art rock ideas and a playful sense of theatre.

They’ve won all sorts of plaudits nationally and internationally and sold out venues worldwide. After almost 18 years in existence, they’re still in love with the music they get to make and practising the art of sharing it.

“Lau are a remarkable band – the most musically adventurous trio in British folk exquisite and hypnotic, musicianship at its best.”- THE GUARDIAN

The Breeze: ‘Thin Ground’ Album Launch

The Breeze are a new 3-piece band comprising long-time collaborators Chris Coll (Lost InThe Fog), Decky McManus (The Basement) and Stevie Scullion (Malojian).

The 3 multi-instrumentalists entered the studio in March 2023 and quickly found a flow which spawned their debut record Thin Ground.

They have already been winning over audiences throughout Ireland and the UK and look forward to hitting the road in support of the album in April and May.

‘The sound of The Beach Boys and Tom waits heading off on holiday together…delightful and mesmerising’ – Ulster Herald

‘Excellent debut single – a catchy, countrified rock and roll delight.’ – Irish News

Peter Case, Sid Griffin and Dan Stuart

A potential show of the festival. Three absolute icons of Americana will play individual sets then come together for an unforgettable finale.

Peter Case is a three-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from the USA who has a most impressive resume. He was the founder of the Nerves, the very first American indie band to put together a nationwide tour and one of the very first to release their own indie EP. He then was the founder and leader of the legendary Plimsouls, an incredibly influential L.A. rock and roll band which drew praise from everyone from Elvis Costello to Tom Petty to critics nationwide.

For the past thirty-some years Peter Case has been a solo troubadour in the great tradition of Dylan, Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. Early on he was produced by T-Bone Burnett and he’s played with and been championed by Roger McGuinn, Van Dyke Parks, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and many more. His latest album is The Midnight Broadcast and it just might be his very best album.

Sid Griffin is best known for his leadership of the Long Ryders, the founding fathers of alt-country and Americana. He is also the proud artist behind four well-received solo albums, was the leader of the wonderful ‘alt-bluegrass’ UK band, The Coal Porters, he was the Resident Musicologist on BBC 6 Music’s Radcliffe & Maconie radio show for over a decade and Sid has written four books. Sid’s most recent book, Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, The Band, and the Basement Tapes, has been reissued twice and Sid did the liner notes for that collection of legendary Dylan tracks.

Dan Stuart is a musician and author who was the leader of Green on Red, a band associated with both LA’s Paisley Underground of the 1980’s and the beginning of the so-called Americana movement. His “false memoir” The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings was published in 2014 to critical acclaim which was followed up with The Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings in 2018.

All three of his books all have albums by the same name with the last getting Americana album of the Month in UNCUT Magazine, Dan has released over 15 albums between Green on Red and his solo years.

Tonight’s performance will feature songs from across his solo and Green on Red catalogue and a very brief reading from his third and latest novel Marlowe’s Revenge along with stories of his time with Green on Red.

Snapped Ankles

Snapped Ankles return to the forest, but it’s not as they left it. Trees planted in neat rows. A well-ordered monoculture with access roads and heavy machinery. The smell of greenwashed money in the air. There’s no sign of the ancient woodland they emerged from on debut album, Come Play The Trees. And it’s far cry from the gentrified East London they found themselves hawking on Stunning Luxury. All is not well in the face of progress. Welcome to the Forest Of Your Problems.

Forest Of Your Problems runs the gamut of modern woodwose emotions. In this neat human approximation of the forest, it’s an increasingly knotted affair. Despite all of this, Snapped Ankles haven’t lost their innate ability to make you want to move your feet – their Teutonic forest rhythms are still shot through with post-punk lightning.

Snapped Ankles outsider status has always allowed them to hold a mirror up to society. Now the boundaries are not so clear. In the four years since Come Play The Trees was released, their cult has flourished. Previous album Stunning Luxury saw the band invited to play the BBC 6 Music Festival and a KEXP session on the back of a sold-out UK tour which culminated with two nights at Village Underground in London. As those who have witnessed the shamanic ritual of their live shows will attest, they are a truly unique, communal experience.


FITE FUAITE le: Boss Sound Manifesto, Róisín Seoighe, SÉiMí (agus a bhanna ceoil), Colm Seoighe agus Na hEasógaí, agus Na Brigideens

Boss Sound Manifesto

Tá lucht leanúna dílis cruthaithe ag Boss Sound Manifesto ag a gcuid gigeanna cois cuain agus in áiteanna eile i gcéin. Bhí siad mar thacaíocht do leithéidí Neville Staples, agus do Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters ag féilte éagsúla le blianta beaga anuas.

Boss Sound Manifesto have built up a loyal fanbase at their gigs in Belfast and further afield. In recent years they’ve supported the likes of Neville Staples, and Lee Scratch Perry & the Upsetters at various festivals.

Róisín Seoighe

Tá Róisín Seoighe aitheanta go forleathan mar cheoltóir cumasach spreagúil comhaimseartha a bhfuil a cuid amhrán féin scríofa agus stíl amhránaíochta agus fuaim faoi leith aici. As Conamara di, ba amhránaí agus damhsóir sean-nóis ar dtús í ach ar na laethanta seo tá clú uirthí mar dhuine de phríomhamhránaithe an bhanna cheoil nuálaigh IMLÉ.

Róisín Seoighe is widely recognised in her own right as an exciting and talented modern singer-songwriter musician with her own unique sound and singing style. From Conamara, she started out as a sean-nós singer and dancer, who these days would be recognised most as lead vocalist for rap-indie-pop outfit IMLÉ.

SÉiMí (agus a bhanna ceoil) 

Buíon cheoil nuabhunaithe de bhunadh na cathrach s’againn féin, fillfidh Séimí agus a chomrádaithe ceoil ar Bharr a’ Tí le seit nuálach de cheol reigé Gaelach. Ná caill iad seo.

One of Béal Feirste’s newest bands, Séimí and his comrades in music return to Barr ‘a Tí with their pioneering Gaelic reggae sounds. Not to be missed.

Colm Seoighe agus Na hEasógaí

As Conamara dóibh is iad Colm Seoighe, Daragh Jennings, agus Fionn Ó Cualáin an triúr ógánach ceolmhar atá sa bhuíon cheoil spraíúil seo Colm Seoighe agus Na hEasógaí. Ar an fhód le breis agus bliain go leith déanann siad a leaganacha uathúla féin de shean-amhráin agus liricí úrnua cumtha ag Colm snaidhmthe leis an cheol sin. Tá an dream seo le beoléiriú den chéad uair riamh i mBéal Feirste ag an imeacht seo in Áras Mhic Reachtain.

Three young musicians from Conamara, Colm Seoighe, Daragh Jennings, and Fionn Ó Cualáin make up this exciting musical outfit. Formed just over a year and a half ago Colm Seoighe and Na hEasógaí put their own unique take on well-known old songs with Colm’s newly composed lyrics weaved into these tunes. Making their Belfast debut in Áras Mhic Reachtain as part of CQAF.

Na Brigideens

Is ceol binn idir thradisiúnta agus nua-aimseartha a bheas á gceol ag Catríona Ní Ghribín agus Aoife Ní Raghallaigh (Na Brigideens).

Expect a modern twist on melodious traditional tunes from Catríona Ní Ghribín and Aoife Ní Raghallaigh (Na Brigideens).

Halla ceolchoirmeacha suite ar an 2ú hurlár. Níl aon ardaitheoir ann. Beir buidéal leat.
2nd floor concert hall, no lift access, no bar, bring your own.

May Day Fiesta

Our Work, Our Lives, Our Place

On Saturday, May 4th the space behind the ICTU & the John Hewitt pub (Donegall St Place) will be transformed into ‘Larkin’s Square’ for an alcohol-free family fun day. Drop in arts workshops will start at 10am, followed by the May Day March & Rally at noon departing from Writers’ Square.

From 2 until 6 pm there will be free drop-in sessions of art workshops, a photo exhibition, music and poetry.  A walking tour and talks on the trade union movement with its historic connection to Belfast will take place throughout the afternoon.

The event is being jointly organised by the Community Arts Partnership and Belfast & District Trades Union Council.

Find out more and get involved at


N Irish premiere

(Screening followed by Q and A with director Kathleen Harris & Sean Ronayne)

Ornithologist Seán Ronayne from Cobh, Co. Cork is on a mission to record the sound of every bird species in Ireland – that’s nearly 200 birds.

An unlikely online sensation after his appearance on the Tommy Tiernan show went viral late last year, Sean’s quiet joy and passion shines through in this stunning film of his singular quest.

Often accompanied by his partner Alba, Seán travels to some of the country’s most beautiful and remote locations to capture its most elusive species and soundscapes. From the busy seabird colony of Skellig Michael; a native woodland free from road noise in the Burren; the corncrake stronghold of Tory Island; a solitary nest in the Donegal uplands. Along the way we get to know Seán, whose hypersensitivity to sound has proven both a struggle and a strength.

At once inspiring and cautionary, Seán’s journey illustrates the beauty and importance of sound, and what listening can tell us about the state of our natural world.

There will be a Q and A with Sean and director Kathleen Harris after the screening as they talk about the making of this incredible documentary film.

“…visually stunning (Birdsong) follows Seán’s quest around some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. Throughout the film, his fascination with birdsong is both endearing and enlightening. Joy and awe are threaded with poignant knowledge that many of the birds encountered along the way are red- or amber-listed birds of conservation concern.”  Irish Examiner

Collaborator – A work in progress by Daniel Kitson

I dislike audience participation.

I think It’s creatively bankrupt, ethically questionable and if I see it mentioned in the blurb for a show, I will not attend due to moral objections and/or personal discomfort.


I’ve written something about that and it’s got just over 200 parts.


Collaborator was conceived specifically to be performed in the round and is re-written a bit for each particular venue. This will be something between the 4th and 7th staging and maybe the eighth rewrite and,I have to say, it’s getting quite good.

The Worst Cafe in the World

Book a table at Big Telly’s Worst Café in The World —not a meal in sight, but a menu of theatrical bites to amuse your bouche – music, mystery, magic, masks  and mayhem.

From Shakespeare to sci-fi the stories come well-done and rare, but the waiters have a lot on their plate and may meltdown any minute… This may be the Worst Cafe for food but it’s the best for craic, specially created for people who like their theatre fresh.

Tickets: £5.00 per person, for a minimum of 30 minutes of table service.

PP Arnold with Special Guest Bronagh Gallagher

PP Arnold is the soul survivor. Her story is one of musical highs, personal lows, and that extraordinary voice.

She joined the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at the age of 17 then arrived in London in 1966 to support The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger persuaded her to stay in London as a solo artist and the rest is history.

During a five-decade-long career, she’s worked with everyone from Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, the Small Faces, Nick Drake, and Barry Gibb to Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, the KLF, Paul Weller and Primal Scream.

Special guest for tonight’s is ireland’s First Lady of Soul, the incomparable Bronagh Gallagher.

Bronagh Gallagher 7.45pm – 8.45pm, PP Arnold 9.00pm – 10.30pm

The Handsome Family

The Handsome Family (songwriting and marriage partners Brett and Rennie Sparks) have been defining the dark end of americana for over 30 years. Brett writes the music and Rennie writes the words. Their work has been covered by many artists including Jeff Tweedy, Andrew Bird and most-recently Phoebe Bridgers.

Their song Far From Any Road was the opening theme for HBO’s True Detective season one and still receives thousands of Shazams every week from all over the world.

Handsome Family songs take place under overpasses and inside airports. Historical figures like George A. Custer and Nikola Tesla appear alongside a flying milkman and the whisper of an air conditioner against a plastic tree.

Their eleventh studio album, Hollow, delves into the natural world at the edges of the man-made. It is a record lush with leaves and shadows and echoing with occult mystery.

Asked to describe their music Brett says, “Western gothic.” It is music inspired by the abandoned strip malls of desert America where cracked pavement shimmers with heat and thorny weeds slowly reclaim the land.

Handsome Family songs may be dark, but there’s always laughter on stage. Rennie sings as well as plays banjo and bass. She often introduces songs with seemingly unrelated stories. Brett, with his deep baritone and stentorian presence, is the undeniable center of stage. The two are often joined by multi-instrumentalists Alex McMahon and Jason Toth as well as fans, new and old, some returning again and again to see them live over the decades.

“We’re astonished to be breathing,” Rennie says about the band’s longevity, “Let alone still be inspired to write songs and sing together. There’s been a lot of smashed coffee cups in our house over the years, but we’re still unable to resist the urge to make music.”

Cass McCombs and Steve Gunn

Cass McCombs’ music contains elements of folk music, americana, psychedelia, and rock. In his latest album, Tip of the Sphere, McCombs draws sounds from his predecessors, recalling Elton John-style pianos and Lou Reed vocals.

The album received much acclaim from review sites, and his live performances can be expected to showcase many of the new album’s songs, and does not disappoint in the subject of lengthy jams. McCombs has opened for recognized artists such as Modest Mouse, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, and John Cale, but his solo shows have also sold out at venues such as Lincoln Hall.

Steve Gunn is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He initially gained a reputation as a go-to musician and for his membership in GHQ, though Gunn has a varied recording and collaboration history that includes work with British legend Mike Cooper and Jack Rose.

The diversity of his approach embraces everything from American Primitive guitar to raucous, Neil Young & Crazy Horse-inspired psychedelic roots rock & roll. He has collaborated with Meg Baird, the Magik Markers, and Kurt Vile, and issued a number of well-received solo albums including Way Out Weather (2014), The Unseen In Between (2018), and Other You (2021).

Lack of Afro (DJ Set)

“He is my guy, a musical brother. And I only f*ck with the best!” – Madlib

A colossus of the funk & soul world, Adam Gibbons (aka Lack of Afro) has been releasing music for 17 years and continues to go from strength to strength with the release of Square One this year, his eighth album under the Lack of Afro moniker.

Previously signed to Freestyle Records in London and running his own label ‘The Bastion Music Group’ since 2015, he has been responsible for some of the genre’s most important releases, not least his debut album ‘Press On’, described by iDJ as “one of the most important albums of the modern funk era” and more recently given ‘classic’ status by Future Music Magazine.

An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and composer, his music has won worldwide critical acclaim and to date has gained 120+ million streams on Spotify. It has been featured on films, TV shows and adverts all over the globe, on networks including HBO, ABC, Sony Pictures, BBC, ITV, Sky TV, Fox Pictures & Warner Brothers Television, and used in multi million ad campaigns by the likes of Google, Spotify, Miller Lite and Adidas.

As a DJ and live performer, he has performed in over 20 countries worldwide and undertaken countless live sessions for radio and TV including two for the BBC at the highly revered Maida Vale Studios.

To date, he has released eight albums under the Lack of Afro moniker, three as The Unity Sextet, one under LUSTRE, one under his own name, an EP with Herbal T as The Damn Straights, albums for other artists, music for several TV shows and over 60 remixes. He has also produced 13 award winning, sample packs for Loopmasters.

Support by Gazfunk

Black Belfast – Horror and True Crime Walking Tour


Dare you stalk the streets of old Belfast and uncover the horrors that lurk in her grisly past?

The Black Belfast Walking Tour with Alternative Uls-Tours

Dates and times: Sunday 5th May, 11:00am & Sunday 12th May, 11:00am

 Belfast’s former red-light district and its connection to an infamous serial killer

• The forgotten medieval graveyard beneath Belfast shoppers’ feet

• How a Victorian wig shop brought Halloween back to Belfast

• The tragic tale of Belfast’s ‘lost boys’ and the ‘Satanic panic’ of the 1970s

• Belfast’s little-known Jack the Ripper suspect

• The bizarre haunting of a Belfast bridge

• Belfast’s body snatchers and the story of Burke and Hare

• Bram Stoker’s Belfast visit and the true inspiration for Dracula

• The curse of the Titanic mummy

• The killing of the last wild wolf in Ulster

• Northern Ireland’s own Dr Harold Shipman and a chilling personal link

Please note:

• The walking tour starts at the Albert Memorial Clock on Queen’s Square in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast city centre, where your guide will be waiting for you

• Please arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled start time

• The tour will end outside the Dock Cafe on Queen’s Road in the Titanic Quarter

• The tour will last two and a half hours and cover around two miles

• The tour will go ahead in all weathers, so please dress accordingly

• There are public toilets near the start and end points

• The route is fully accessible, but please inform us in advance of any mobility issues

• Well-behaved dogs are welcome on the tour

• Your guide is a fully qualified Level 4 (blue badge) tour guide with a lifelong interest in the monstrous and the macabre

• The tour is fully insured through Tour Guides NI

Very important:

• The tour is open to all ages, but parental guidance is strongly advised due to the graphic and disturbing nature of some of the stories. You have been warned!

Hit the North Block Party

Watching paint dry has a bad reputation.

Actually when there’s 70+ artists hitting a city block and the sun’s shining and David Holmes is on the decks and the roads are closed and there’s Hennessy and Ginger in your hand… there’s actually not many better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Hit the North’s Block Party will be the climax to our 12th year, but also keep an eye out for work going on across the city in the preceding days and head to for our full programme of workshops, tours, exhibitions and live events happening right across the weekend.

Artist line up for this year…

Ben Eine, Zabou, Veks Van Hillik

Lydia Cao, Kos Dos, Sr Papa Chango, Psoman, Malarko, Dalal Mitwally, Dreph,

Caryn Bearkoh, Oddhouse, Qwynto, Sepr, Yazan Mesmar, Percpicer, Artista, Solus, Friz, Sophi Odling

Kone, ELno, LoURS, Shona Hardie, VaneMG, Lucie Flynn, KVLR, Decoy, Rob Hilken, Eoin, Noys, Signs of Power, FGB, Vents, Emma Blake, Razor, David McMillan, Pens, G.W. Joyce, Joke, Codo, Horhey, Danny Simpson, Jess Tobin, Mac Signs, JMK, Fenz, Leo Boyd, Kerrie Hannah, Alana McDowell, Kaos, Jayde Perkin, Verz, Glen Molloy, Lovely Letters, Killian Dra, Magdalina Karol, AnaFish, Alexandra

The Dodge Brothers

+ support Dan Donnelly (The Levellers)

Firm festival favourites, The Dodge Brothers have sold out the Black Box on all past visits so we’re delighted to welcome the band to CQAF’s biggest stage for a perfect Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon hoe-down.

The Dodge Brothers are a skiffle-and-blues band producing ‘tunes of proven merit’ – new songs written and performed in the old style, harking back to the days of jug-band blues and early rock’n’roll.

The band are: Mike Hammond (guitars, lead vocals, banjo); Aly Hirji (guitars, mandolin, vocals); Mark Kermode (bass, harmonica, vocals), and Alex Hammond (washboard, snare drum, percussion). The music has an authentically American tang – lead guitarist/vocalist Mike Hammond was raised in Alabama and his youthful musical travels took him all over the southern and western USA – but with a strong British perspective.

The Dodge Brothers’ first album Louisa and the Devil showcased songs about transport, heartbreak and homicide, with tales of strong women, bad men and lonesome railroads. Their second album The Sun Set was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, using authentically old-fashioned recording techniques to recapture the spirit of a bygone age.

The Dodge Brothers’ more recent album Drive Train was released in 2018 and described as “Essential listening” by Whispering Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2’s Country Show.

As a live act The Dodge Brothers have played everywhere from The Roundhouse to the Royal Albert Hall, from the 100 Club to the Cropredy festival.  At the Jazz Café, they played with rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson, and they regularly sell-out gigs at the Borderline and the Blues Kitchen in London.

Bang Bike- Let’s Ride!

The Bang Bike is literally a festival on a bike powered by Dimebag DJs. It is hitting the road for its very first time. Deck out your bikes and let’s ride with the Bang Bike.

Finishing at the Deer’s Head for a very special CQ street party.

If you have seen the bike perform at festivals, you know what to expect. If not – it’s a portable sound system with a DJ on board.

Please meet up at the Botanic Bandstand at 6,00pm and we’ll move into town in an orderly fashion.

Park up your bike and the Street party starts at 7pm.

Join Justin Robertson upstairs at the Deers Head.

Dimebag DJs performing outside the Deers Head from 8pm – 1am

Admission is free but please book in advance.

‘Teeth’ Book Launch

You’re invited to join writer John Patrick Higgins in conversation and reading from his new book ‘Teeth: An Oral History’

Teeth,like a weeping father at a wedding, give you away. Like St Peter, they will betray you three times: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Teeth are a memento mori, a sudden glimpse of the naked skull beneath the skin.

John Patrick Higgins has had bad teeth for as long as he can remember and you might expect him, being English, not to notice. But he has noticed, and he’s done something about it. This book recounts his journey from a mouthful of moist gravel to the Pole-star wattage of a Hollywood A-lister. But first comes the horror of “stabilisation”. The trenches dug into his gums. The water- boarding horror of the dentist’s chair. The deforestation of his bank account.

Will he survive the ordeal? And if he does—blinking into that bright new day—will there be anything to smile about? Teeth: An Oral History is a bitingly funny story, illustrated by the author, and featuring a glossary of useful terms, as most of his references pre-date the discovery of fluoride.”

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens – Screening and DJ set

The American Bar presents a very special screening and live DJ set from John Shepherd, beamed live to the bar after the screening.

A rural electronics whiz broadcasts radio signals into space and monitors for signs of aliens, but makes a more important connection here on Earth.

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens introduces us to John in a room where, wedged between a couch and a giant bookshelf of LPs (and a record player), two tall shelf towers stand, filled with archaic electronic devices that resemble the sort of gear featured in old NASA movies.

“My interest is in finding out the unknown. And the unknown is just that—unknown. And you search, and you continue searching, because of your desire. Because you know that something’s there.”

Through a concise blend of new footage, archival photographs, and commentary from John, Killip’s short elucidates that, from an early age, John became consumed with trying to communicate with otherworldly beings. To do this, he invented and constructed a wide array of complex contraptions that beamed “non-commercial music”—jazz, reggae, Afropop, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream—and which soon took over his grandparents’ residence, where he lived.

A testament to the spirit of exploration and innovation. Moreover, it’s a sweet and subtly profound portrait of the universal desire for something more.

Despite its short length, there’s a lot packed into this thoughtful little film- not so much about aliens, but about a very earthly desire for connection.

A little sliver of humanity that’ll give you a lot of hope.
John Serba


Harvest are an 8-piece band who have been thrilling audiences and fans of Neil Young for 15 years.

Formed in 2009, the band have played sell-out shows all over Ireland, including a performance of arguably Young’s greatest album Harvest in full at Vicar Street in Dublin in 2018. The band have also played numerous festivals including Electric Picnic and appeared on national TV and radio.

The band embrace the mercurial Canadian’s multiple genres and styles, from the gentlest acoustic country/folk workouts to the noisiest ‘Crazy Horse’ rock epics, and everything in between.

A rare chance to celebrate Youngless peerless legacy through beautiful renditions of the timeless classics Heart of Gold, The Needle and the Damage Done, Old Man, Helpless and many others.

If you like Neil Young, you will love Harvest.

Conchúr White

A singer-songwriter from County Armagh, Conchúr White navigates the dreamlike and the grounded with blissful fluency on his beautiful debut album Swirling Violets.

Released through Bella Union in January, Swirling Violets is allusive and intimate, unearthly yet instantly accessible: touching on fully felt themes with grace and lightness, its a richly imagined album of multitudes from an instinctive talent.“I like surreal settings, but with tangible messages,” says White.

As White explains it, “There wasn’t a conscious theme, though the songs operate in the same sort of space, that sense of surrealism. There’s ghosts, there’s other worlds. There’s a cosmic feeling, questions about the beginning and the end and dreams. And then there’s simpler songs, love songs about the feelings of infatuation you have when you’re young”

A music graduate who has also worked alongside young people with mental health issues, White’s story began in bands. He played in atmospheric indie-rockers Silences before their split allowed Conchúr to develop his solo voice at his own pace.

With praise from SPIN, The Line of Best Fit, Under the Radar, Steve Lamacq, Radio 6 and others under his belt, he has also notched up touring slots with The Magnetic Fields, Villagers, Billie Marten and John Grant, who complemented White’s work warmly.

Mr Scruff

Ninja Tune veteran & supreme selector Mr. Scruff will be at the controls for the whole night, serving up a melting pot of deep soul/funk/reggae/afro/jazz/latin/hip-hop, harder edged electro/house/new wave/techno/electronic, and plenty of goodies that don’t fit into any category… all knitted together with technical skill and a keen sense of fun!

Expect fantastic sound, a lovely mixed crowd & great atmosphere.

Justin Robertson

Showbiz is fickle game. Fashions change and genres evolve at a dizzying velocity. To stay at the cutting edge as a DJ, music producer, broadcaster, visual artist, & author requires an unshakeable passion and a restless urge to keep evolving.

Justin Robertson has occupied that edge in one form or another for 35 years, remaining rapier sharp across all these diverse fields.

Emerging from behind the counter of the legendary Eastern Bloc records in Manchester, Justin soon became a recognised figure in the nascent acid house scene of the city. Since his arrival as a wide-eyed philosophy student in 1986, Justin had supplemented his degree with a close study of the city’s famous night spots. Music, always a passion, became an obsession and soon he was DJ’ing at some of the city’s most celebrated spots as well as promoting two of Manchester’s legendary nights, Spice with Greg Fenton and Most Excellent, where the Chemical Brothers found their early inspiration.

His refusal to be categorised musically led him to developing a reputation as an open-minded DJ and fledgling remixer. Regular guest spots around the world followed in short order and his production reputation was cemented with a string of remixes for the likes of Erasure, Happy Mondays, Bjork and Talk Talk that were staples in the sets of DJs worldwide.

As the electronic music scene grew and morphed into evermore interesting shapes, so Justin’s music evolved too. Drawing on his love of Dub, Psychedelia and 1960’s film soundtracks he fused these varied influences in his psych-hop beat combo Lionrock. Top 40 hits, Top of the Pops, touring with the Cocteau Twins and regular festival appearances make them still one of the most revered British bands of that era.

Willy Mason

Willy Mason is a songwriter who has become harder to define as the years go on.

Often outside of time musically, his lyrics reflect the humanness of now and our steps toward transcendence.

Willy’s music has traveled great lengths over the years but it’s always been from the heart and for the sake of love and its mysterious mission.

His voice and performances have only improved with age. Today’s shows are tight and powerful; full of passion and conviction, humor and love.


Written By Matthew Sharpe and Created In Collaboration With Tinderbox Theatre Company

Meet Marcus, raised in Northern Ireland with mixed-race heritage. Marcus has always gone along with society’s stereotypes to fit in – from posing as a rap superstar to flexing his muscles as a gym bro, he’s tried them all. But when an audition makes him question his true self, Marcus faces the ultimate dilemma: Who is he, really?

Join Marcus on his FUNNY and PROVOCATIVE escapade as he embarks on a quest of self-discovery, unravelling the layers of societal expectations to uncover the truth buried deep within himself.

I’VE ALWAYS LIKED THE NAME MARCUS is a unique but universal tale of personal identity and cultural diversity amidst our rapidly changing world.

Tinderbox Theatre Company 

Tinderbox Theatre Company is a leading arts organisation specialising in contemporary theatre practice in Northern Ireland.

For thirty-two years, Tinderbox has championed new writing, producing world-class performances from Northern Irish writers to critical and international acclaim. Tinderbox is a leading player in creative empowerment and contemporary artistic practice for artists, participants and audiences in NI.

Running time: 60mins
Age Guidance: 14+

CRASS: The Sound of Free Speech

Dir. Brandon Spivey | UK | 2023 | 90 mins

Celebratory, shocking and raw, this film is as close to the story of the anarcho-punk band as you’re going to get…

Crass formed in Essex in 1977, and disbanded all too soon in 1984. Their work promoted grass roots activism and a movement of resistance that awakened and appealed to many, inspiring a multitude of bands and artists along the way.

In “The Sound of Free Speech”, director and artist Brandon Sivey revisits the controversies and outrage that surrounded one of the band’s earliest musical and political statements: Reality Asylum. Made with the blessing of Crass members, the film dives into 1970s Britain; the birth of punk and the formation of Crass, with an in-depth look at their art, music, politics and ethos, plus its impact on those who were trying to make sense of a brutal hostile society they had no place in.

Spivey also tells a broader story, expanding on the narrative of anarchism and a broken system. Through open-hearted interviews he touches upon subjects such as assault carried out by the church, Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, the biggest war that threatens humanity; class war, and of course what it was like to be a punk band in the 70s and the 80s.


Nadine Shah

Nadine Shah worries that too much time might have elapsed between her last album, 2020’s universally acclaimed Kitchen Sink and its extraordinary successor Filthy Underneath.

Three years might seem like a prolonged absence to some people, but it’s also a period of time in which the apparatus that holds your world in place can be dismantled and reassembled so that you can keep living, keep creating. And the more Nadine tells you about the last three years of her life – losing her mother to cancer at the height of lockdown; the suicide attempt that ended her marriage (not, thankfully, her life); the subsequent period in rehab that slowly endowed her with the tools to outwit the pernicious voices that once overwhelmed her – the more incredible it is that she has returned as soon as she has done.

Filthy Underneath chronicles a period of unprecedented turbulence in Nadine Shah’s life. And yet, the experience of listening to it is oddly life-affirming – a parade of ghosts spanning the entirety of Nadine’s thirty-seven years, moving with balletic beauty to the music that Nadine and long-time collaborator and producer Ben Hillier have created around them.

Jack Docherty: David Bowie & Me – Parallel Lives

In his critically-acclaimed show devoted to the Star Man, Jack Docherty, the BAFTA award-winning star of Scot Squad and Absolutely, takes audiences on a journey through topics of first love, hedonism, mortality and why you should always meet your heroes.

Following rave reviews and a sell-out run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Jack Docherty, the BAFTA award-winning star of Scot Squad and Absolutely, is taking his critically-acclaimed show David Bowie & Me on tour. 

The comic, author, actor and writer uses his time spent with Bowie on The Jack Docherty Show in 1997 as a jumping off point to take audiences through topics from first love, hedonism, mortality and why you should always meet your heroes. From AI to culture wars, families to teenage years, David Bowie and Me – Parallel Lives is a journey of comedy and storytelling, taking fans on a trip through the inner workings of his masterful mind.

“It is simply impossible not to love what he does on a stage’ – The Scotsman

“Extremely enjoyable piece about his connection with late, great starman” – The Evening Standard

“This show truly showcases Jack’s ability as a performer and story-teller, engaging with his audience from start to finish” – Edinburgh Evening News

“Docherty’s mighty presence fills the room… a superbly delivered, autobiographical coming-of-age story” – Three Weeks

“A love letter to creativity, to music and to the teenagers we all once were” – Entertainment Now

Duration – 75 mins no interval

Age Rating – 18 

C Duncan

Born and raised in Glasgow by two classical musicians, Chris studied piano and viola before taking up guitar, bass, and drums in his teens, eventually studying music composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. After graduating he began work on his first album, writing and recording everything from home.

His Mercury nominated debut ‘Architect’ was released in 2015 and after a spell of touring the UK and Europe he returned to his home studio and began work on his Twilight Zone inspired second album ‘The Midnight Sun’ which was released in 2016 and shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year.

He supported Elbow on their UK and North American tour which led him to record his third album ‘Health’ at their studio in Salford with Craig Potter, which was released in 2019 and also shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year. Now back in his “new and improved” home studio, Chris recorded and released his fourth album ‘Alluvium’ in May 2022 on Bella Union. He is also a keen artist, and paints all his own album artwork.

Chasing Amy: A Celebration of the Life and Songs of Amy Winehouse

Fresh from the success of her last Festival show -‘Feeling Good ‘, which honoured Nina Simone, acclaimed vocalist Victoria Geelan returns to Belfast to celebrate the life and music of another of her greatest artistic influences: Amy Winehouse.

Both born in 1983, Victoria immediately fell in love with Amy’s vocal artistry and witty lyrics, closely following her musical career and her dramatic rise to fame in the early 2000s, which was cut tragically short with Amy’s untimely death in 2011.

Chasing Amy is a compassionate exploration of the creative influences and development of the celebrated vocalist and songwriter.

Complemented by her band of in-demand virtuoso musicians, Victoria will take the audience on a thrilling and joyful musical journey, from jazz beginnings, through soul, reggae and hip-hop to the creation of one of the definitive albums of the 21st century: Back To Black.

This show will not just feature the songs of Amy Winehouse, but also those of her artistic influences, which she regularly included in her live sets.  It will explore the stories behind the songs, the treatment of her and her private life by the media, her struggles with bulimia and depression and how trailblazing she was for her generation, as a woman and artist.

Amy broke the mould of what a female popular singer sounded and looked like but, more importantly, what she sang about: female sexuality, friendship, addictions, depression, family and the art of songwriting itself.  This is one show that will stay with you long after the music has ended.

Due to some explicit lyrical content and adult themes, this show is recommended for those aged 14+.

Oisin Leech

Uncut Magazine have described Oisin’s solo debut album as “a stunning album of clear blue reflection’ while Shindig Magazine said “Oisin has reached a new pinnacle.”

Songwriter Oisin Leech grew up in Meath but spent a lot of his youth near Buncranna in Co. Donegal from where his family hail and from where his solo debut album has arrived. Enlisting Brooklyn artist Steve Gunn as producer was the first stop on the road to creating ‘Cold Sea’ ; the first solo offering from Oisin.

Recording took place near Malin in an old sea-facing schoolhouse which Leech and Gunn transformed into a working studio for four days. The end result is a spellbinding album of minimalist serene beauty. M Ward, Dónal Lunny, Roisin McGrory and Tony Garnier all make an appearance across the nine cathartic and crafted songs.

Oisin has toured recently with M Ward, Lisa O’Neill and will tour with Gaz Coombes in 2024 also. While he has graced the Belfast stages many times with his acclaimed and revered musical duo The Lost Brothers, Oisin is delighted to play his Belfast solo debut gig at The Deers Head on May 7 as part of Cathedral Arts Festival.

Muireann Bradley

Muireann Bradley is a 17 year old finger picking guitarist & singer who grew up in the hills overlooking the Finn Valley outside the town of Ballybofey in County Donegal. Muireann performs primarily Country, Ragtime & Piedmont style blues from the 1920s & 1930s.

Her influences include Rev Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, and Memphis Minnie to name just a few. She delights in interpreting & performing the music of these early blues masters, always putting her own unique stamp on the tunes.

Muireann grew up surrounded by guitars & old blues & began playing at the age of nine when she convinced her father to buy her first guitar and teach her. She worked hard and learned to finger pick in various old blues styles. However as she got older she began to invest more time in the sports of boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which she trained and competed in successfully from a young age. This led to the guitar and music beginning to take something of a back seat.

Then in March 2020 when the first COVID lock downs happened all contact sports were shut down. Muireann felt lost for a while but she soon rediscovered her love for the guitar and the old Blues that she had grown up with. She was now listening and practicing with a new intensity and focus.

She decided to start posting videos on You Tube, the first of which was her rendition of Blind Blake’s “Police Dog Blues”. It received a lot of attention, and has now had 80,000+ views. She was then contacted by Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records in San Francisco who suggested she record an album.

The songs and instrumentals were all recorded live in the studio in one or two takes in an attempt to make the process as similar as possible to that of the original classic country blues artists of the 1920s and 30s. These recordings would become the album “I kept these old blues” which has just been released.


Wonderfully, confoundingly funny
Guardian – Top 5 Comedy Shows of 2022

Everybody wants to be a cat because a cat is just a cat.

From ‘acclaimed clown’ and emerging idiot Frankie Thompson, CAttS is a lip-sync ballet through the distractions and obsessions that help us cope with an increasingly dystopian reality. Because after all, wouldn’t we rather think about cats?

The stage is set with a treadmill, yoga mat, step-up box and a big silver exercise ball . A suitable assortment for a richly physical show.

Thompson fiddles with a retro VCR and Jane Fonda’s Original Workout flickers on to a screen. “I’m trying to work out how to cope,” she tentatively tells the crowd. Before she can get going, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical interrupts, the show weaves together feline references from disparate origins – Postman Pat, The Aristocats, Don’t Tell the Bride, Antiques Roadshow.

Thompson flits between manic workouts and controlled lip-syncing of the characters on our journey, her brilliantly expressive face bringing the audio to life. Her interpretation of The Simpsons’ Crazy Cat Lady is a lovely, silly interlude, sending the audience ducking as cats fly around the room.

Underneath the fun and silliness, we’re invited to think about stress, being overwhelmed and becoming comfortable inside your own head. Thompson is a magnetic performer, her clownish physicality a joy to watch. What is a “crazy cat lady”, anyway? Maybe we all need a cat of our own to help us feel a little bit less crazy. The Guardian.

★★★★ hysterically funny, deeply strange Time Out

Young Frankenstein : Special Event Screening

We celebrate the 50th anniversary of the horrifyingly hilarious Young Frankenstein with a very special screening. And where else to watch Mel Brook’s gothic masterpiece than in the atmospheric surrounds of one of Belfast’s finest examples of Gothic architecture, St Patrick’s Church, Belfast!

Young Frankenstein brings together Brooks’ inimitable style with a hilarious all-star cast of comedy legends, including the late, great Gene Wilder (who also wrote the script) as Federick “Fronkensteen”, Marty Feldman as shifty humpback Igor, Teri Garr as the hay-rolling lab assistant Inga, Madeleine Kahn as Dr. Frankenstein’s high-strung fiancée Elizabeth, Peter Boyle as the kind-hearted monster, an uncredited Gene Hackman as the blind man who befriends him, and Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher.

The movie is both a loving tribute and a raucous, irreverent parody of Universal’s classic horror films Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Filming in glorious black and white, we can’t think of a better venue than the truly gothic St Patrick’s Church for this celebration of one of the funniest and cinematically gorgeous films of all time!

Now, “walk this way” if you dare…


Zoe Conway & John Mcintyre

With an exciting blend of eclectic fiddle and guitar music, Zoe Conway  and John McIntyre bring to the stage sympathetic arrangements of traditional Irish music, compositions and songs, old and new.

The duo possess a rare facility to draw pieces into their repertoire from other genres such as classical, jazz and world music and express this material in way which not only displays the sheer range and knowledge of both instrumentalists but also exhibits the wonderful versatility of their instruments.

Their debut duo album, entitled Go Mairir I Bhfad (Long Life To You), received a glorious 5 stars from The Irish Times.  For this unique album, they commissioned twelve leading Irish composers to each compose a piece specifically for Zoë and John, for fiddle and guitar, with the aim of collectively presenting a snapshot of traditional Irish music alive today.

The renowned composers who took part in the project were Liz Carroll, Steve Cooney, Frankie Gavin, Andy Irvine, Charlie Lennon, Donal Lunny, Máirtín O’Connor, Peadar Ó Riada, Mícheál Ó Súilleabhán, Tommy Peoples, Niall Vallely and Bill Whelan.

Zoë, no stranger to the stage, has performed with an impressive list of international artists including Riverdance, Damien Rice, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Rodrigo y Gabriella to mention but a few.

In contrast to this, she has been an important figure within classical music circles in Ireland and abroad, as her crossover discipline has allowed her the pleasure of appearing as soloist with acclaimed orchestras such as The Irish Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and German WDR Symphony Orchestra.

John grew up in the Cooley Mountains of north County Louth where he took up guitar at 8 years of age. John studied classical guitar and piano for many years, and from early childhood was immersed in the language, songs and traditional dance music of south west Donegal – his father’s homeplace.

Together, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre have been described as “simply one of the best folk duos on the planet” (BBC), and audiences in Ireland and beyond keep coming back for more.  They were awarded Best Live Show from popular YouTube channel, Balcony TV, and have received in excess of a combined half a million views online.

“An ceol is binne agus is cruinne dá gcuala mé riamh.”

“Zoë Conway – Folk Instrumentalist of the Year 2020”  (RTE Radio 1 Folk Awards)

“Simply one of the best folk duos on the planet” (BBC)

Ben Glover: Album Launch

Ben Glover returns home to Belfast for a special performance, marking his first solo show since 2018. The occasion is set to celebrate the launch of his upcoming album, And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky, scheduled for release in April ’24.

While Glenarm, County Antrim remains close to his heart, Glover has called Nashville home since 2009, establishing himself as a respected collaborator with some of the city’s finest artists, including Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters.

In 2018, Glover’s album Shorebound clinched the Album Of The Year title at the Americana UK Awards. This recognition followed his previous success with Gretchen Peters in 2016, winning Song of The Year for Blackbirds.

The highly anticipated And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky embodies a unique creative process, allowing a body of work to organically evolve through writing and recording sessions that commenced in 2019.

No stranger to the Black Box stage, where he has delivered countless memorable performances over the last decade, Ben Glover is excited to make a return and be part of the CQAF.


Drawing from circus, stand-up and live art, Contra is a solo-cabaret of contradictions. Fierce, witty and uncompromising, this highly physical show interrogates personal, social and historical occupations of the female body and explores, literally, where such bodies are positioned and how we are meant to look at them. Expect scenes of nudity, aerial acrobatics, and explicit references to mythical reptiles and female sexuality.

Laura Murphy is a genre-defying queer performance maker from Bristol who makes dynamic, cross-disciplinary physical work about things that she thinks need to be talked about. Contra was directed by alt cabaret legend Ursula Martinez.

Laura Murphy is a circusnext Laureate, circusnext is a platform for circus creation supported by the European Union.

Age Guidance: 18+ Contains nudity, strong language and frank discussions of sex and the body

Work is the curse of the drinking classes

By Neil Titley. Starring Will Govan and directed by Rebecca O’Connor.

Set in Paris in 1898, Will Govan plays an exiled Oscar Wilde looking back on his extraordinarily colourful life and ruminating on love, fame, family and misfortune with his infamous wit and irreverence in this hilarious but ultimately tragic story of a life.

The play draws on Wilde’s letters, essays and anecdotes to bring this literary genius to life in a 60-minute performance which will appeal as much to those who know little about the man as it will to those who admire his work.

This play has delighted audiences in hundreds of venues across the world, including the USA, Canada, India, Hong Kong, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Bahrain and Ethiopia.

‘Titley balances Wilde’s almost dutiful humour with an unsentimental portrayal of his suffering in Reading Gaol, his bitter perception of man’s inhumanity to man. He also captures his character’s dignity in despair and the comedy makes the heartbreak of Wilde’s life even more poignant. It is a most moving effect.’ Evening Standard

‘Funny and melancholic.’ The Times

‘Charming and witty.’ Irish Times

‘Fine and genuinely moving.’ Festival Times, Edinburgh

‘I found myself finding out more about Wilde than any lecturer in an entire semester of school could teach. A highly intelligent piece of writing that I would gladly recommend.’ Ontario Arts Review


Will Govan grew up in the UK, where he acted in several Shakespeare productions before choosing to study portrait painting at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London. He is an artist and co-founder of The Moth. After a hiatus of seven years, in which he interviewed the likes of Colm Tóibín, Sally Rooney and Anne Enright for The Moth magazine, he is returning to his first love, reviving the award-winning Moth Productions theatre company to take on the role of Oscar Wilde in Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes.

Neil Titley was born in Inverness in Scotland. An actor and writer, he spent his theatrical career concentrating on solo shows. He performed Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes over 700 times in five continents before retiring in 2017. His play on George Bernard Shaw, Shaw’s Corner, was televised in over twenty countries. He is the author of The Oscar Wilde World of Gossip: A Subversive Encycolpaedia of Victorian Anecdote.

Rebecca O’Connor is an author and co-founder of The Moth. She was a member of the QUB Drama Society, where she produced several plays. Her work has been shortlisted for the Irish Times Strong Shine Award and the Kate O’Brien Award, and she was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize by Poetry Review. Her debut novel He Is Mine and I Have No Other was published in 2018: ‘A remarkable account of adolescent love in the 1990s, backlit by the true story of 35 children who burned to death in a Cavan orphanage 50 years earlier’ (Critics Choice, Irish Independent).

Hollie McNish: The Lobster Tour with Michael Pedersen

After a run of sold out shows up and down the UK, Hollie McNish is back with a brand new book, Lobster and other things I’m learning to love. A Sunday Times bestselling writer whose live readings are not to be missed, expect strong language and adult content, gift-wrapped in gorgeously crafted poetry.

In Lobster, Hollie brings her much-loved style to questions offriendship, flags and newborns, clocks, cocks and volvos, shining a ridiculous and beautifully poetic lens upon all those things we have been taught to hate, and which we might just learn to love again. Here, she will be joined by fellow poet Michael Pedersen reading from his latest brilliant books The Cat Prince and Boy Friends.

Adult content warning 14+ / Book signing after the gig

“Makes me cry and howl with laughter” – Paapa Essiedu

“Her writing is sublime” – Ellie Taylor

“like Pam Ayres on acid” – Lemn Sissay

“One of the best poets we have”. – Matt Haig

“Rubbish” – The Telegraph

About the Author
Hollie McNish is a poet and author based between Glasgow and Cambridge. She was the first poet to record at Abbey Road Studios, London and won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her poetic parenting memoir – Nobody Told Me -of which The Scotsman stated ‘The World Needs this Book’.

She has published four further collections of poetry – Papers, Cherry Pie, Plum and Slug, which was a Sunday Times bestseller.Her new book, Lobster, and other things I’m learning to love is out now. She loves writing.


“It’s like someone took Spiritualized to the club!” — Lauren Laverne, BBC 6 Music

TVAM self-released his much-acclaimed debut ‘Psychic Data’ in the autumn of 2018, something of a cult-classic, the album joined the dots between Suicide’s deconstructed rock ’n’ roll, Boards of Canada’s irresistible nostalgia and My Bloody Valentine’s infinite noise. Psychic Data spawned an ‘Album Of The Day’ and two daytime playlists at BBC 6Music whilst signature tune ‘Porsche Majeure’ featured in HBO’s smash-hit ‘Succession’.

Fast-forward to 2022, TVAM appeared from his studio blinking in the crisp Spring sunshine to sign with Invada Records. The resultant‘High Art Lite’ took a different tilt to its predecessor by emphasising the immediate and the personal, the colours blown-out and the brightness cranked up.

A heady mix of Black Mirror’s modern fables, JG Ballard’s gated communities of sun-drenched wealth, and Mulholland Drive’s boulevard of broken daydreams, ‘High Art Lite’ offers an all-inclusive package of redemption.

TVAM is both visceral and melancholic, drifting wonderfully across dream pop, shoegaze and synth-pop without ever permanently calling one camp its home

As well as his own regular headline shows in the UK TVAM has enjoyed the attentions of Blue Dot, End Of the Road, Green Man, Liverpool / Manchester and Edinburgh Psych Fests, and headlined Lewes Psych Fest.

Praise for ‘High Art Lite’:

‘Album Of The Week’ – Amazing Radio

Album Of The Week’ – Louder Than War

‘Album Of The Week’ –

[TVAM] has created an album that is much better than its predecessor. Majestic on all counts and a major effort at stealing the crown from Jason Pierce” – Louder Than War

As if Spiritualized had swallowed an upper instead of a downer. The euphoria with which TVAM play in rage on the second album is definitely contagious. Everything about this album bubbles, fizzes, shines and dazzles.” – Visions

“An influx of technicolour and imagery that occasionally fades briefly into darkness…a magnetic disc” – Plugged

Joe Oxley aka TVAM has lost none of his brilliance. [High Art Lite]

launches the listener into the wonderful world of the artist’s neo-psychedelia”

La Vague Paralléle

Always oscillating between shoegaze, industrial and synth pop, TVAM bathes its compositions in a captivating, disinhibiting electric mist.” – MOWNO

“[TVAM] channels Spacemen 3 and first wave shoegazes addiction to smudged, distorted looping riffs, pushing into psychedelia” – The Arts Desk

Praise for ‘Psychic Data’:

“Quite simply, this is one of the best debuts in recent times. Utterly and unashamedly brilliant.” – Electronic Sound

“An industrialised pop record that throbs and pulses with an infectious, entrancing haze that’s instantly addictive … roaring great fun” – Loud & Quiet

“A Ballardian synthesis of rock grind, mechanoid tension and ether-gazing vocals which variously recalls The Normal, Suicide and Add N to (X)” –Mojo

“ Indulge in the disaffected rage that beats through this darkly glittering experimental masterpiece” – Gigwise

‘Boldie’ Premiere screening

A new film by Nicholas Keogh
A short character introduction to Max the Jack Russell.
Nicholas will also be introducing two of his favourite films:

Watching YouTube 
By Paddy Maguire
Rare Witch is an artist, animator, film-maker and musician based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His music combines a chaotic fusion of abstract comedy, local social commentary, and overhand banjo playing.


Director: Price James
Writer: Darren Cullen
Based on Original Artwork by Darren Cullen
Artist and activist whose artwork satirises topics ranging from the insidious nature of advertising, from the culpability of the “Santa lie” to armed forces recruitment propaganda.

Annie Macmanus in Conversation – in partnership with Ulster Presents at Ulster University

CQAF  in partnership with Ulster Presents at Ulster University welcomes Annie Macmanus to the festival to talk about her writing and her career in music and broadcasting.  Hosted by Shauna McLaughlin.

‘To be honest with you, I want to make music.’ In Annie Macmanus’ absorbing second novel ‘The Mess We’re In’ it’s the early noughties and 21-year-old Orla Quinn has made her way to London with a burning desire to become part of the music industry. Moving into a squalid house in Kilburn with her friend Neema and up-and-coming rock band Shiva, Orla works in the local Irish pub and takes work experience at a record label. Negotiating hedonism, sex, parties, the pub locals and life in London, all soundtracked by her favourite artists, Orla learns what it will take to make it.

A dynamic and enthusiastic speaker, Annie will discuss the journey she’s undertaken from discussing other people’s stories to telling her own. Annie is internationally renowned as a DJ, broadcaster and host.

Her debut novel ‘Mother Mother’ was critically acclaimed. She hosts the podcast Changes where she talks to people from all walks of life about the challenges they’ve faced.

‘Captures a time and a place with heart and irresistible momentum in a prose that can be bracingly lyrical.’THE OBSERVER

‘The writing is so vivid – I could almost feel Orla’s hangover, and everyone else’s too. [Macmanus has] created a great gang of characters, and a great variety too, all of them very human… And London – what [she’s] managed to do with London, and what London means to different generations of Irish people – is terrific, and deeply moving.’ RODDY DOYLE

‘Orla is written with unsentimental authenticity… It is her flaws, her vulnerability and her complexity that make her such a compelling character that will resonate with anyone who has ever left home in search of themselves… Orla is searching for a voice in the noise – Macmanus articulates that hunger with confidence and compassion.’ IRISH TIMES



Muireann Bradley

Tickets for Festival Marquee, Tuesday 7th May available here

Muireann Bradley is a 17 year old finger picking guitarist & singer who grew up in the hills overlooking the Finn Valley outside the town of Ballybofey in County Donegal. Muireann performs primarily Country, Ragtime & Piedmont style blues from the 1920s & 1930s.

Her influences include Rev Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, and Memphis Minnie to name just a few. She delights in interpreting & performing the music of these early blues masters, always putting her own unique stamp on the tunes.

Muireann grew up surrounded by guitars & old blues & began playing at the age of nine when she convinced her father to buy her first guitar and teach her. She worked hard and learned to finger pick in various old blues styles. However as she got older she began to invest more time in the sports of boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which she trained and competed in successfully from a young age. This led to the guitar and music beginning to take something of a back seat.

Then in March 2020 when the first COVID lock downs happened all contact sports were shut down. Muireann felt lost for a while but she soon rediscovered her love for the guitar and the old Blues that she had grown up with. She was now listening and practicing with a new intensity and focus.

She decided to start posting videos on You Tube, the first of which was her rendition of Blind Blake’s “Police Dog Blues”. It received a lot of attention, and has now had 80,000+ views. She was then contacted by Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records in San Francisco who suggested she record an album.

The songs and instrumentals were all recorded live in the studio in one or two takes in an attempt to make the process as similar as possible to that of the original classic country blues artists of the 1920s and 30s. These recordings would become the album “I kept these old blues” which has just been released.


Belonging by Cikada Circus

Belonging is an abstract acrobatic performance piece originally crafted in 2022 as a response to a collection of artworks of the same theme. The performers use a piece of stretch fabric as a medium to create fluid sculptures and abstract shapes, acting as a platform to explore physical and metaphorical expressions of what it is to belong: to one another, to a place, to the natural world, or a feeling of simply not belonging.

In this extended and immersive version, adapted especially for Festival of Fools, the acrobats invite audience members to contemplate our connections to the natural world, to one another, and to the planet as a unified entity.

The original Belonging performance was directed by Alain Servant, commissioned by the Belonging exhibition of works from the EIB Art collection – Limerick, and the creation was supported by Art Council Ireland and Nenagh Arts Centre.

Luke Haines Freaks Out! Weirdos, Misfits and Deviants – The Rise and Fall of Righteous Rock ’n’ Roll

Join Luke Haines for this in-conversation talk about his new book.

The outsider artist par excellence turns his caustic eye to the rise and fall of alternative rock ’n’ roll heroes.

In his first book for thirteen years, author Luke Haines – visual artist, writer and musician most famed as the founder member of the Auteurs and Black Box Recorder – chronologically explains how ‘freaks’ infiltrated modern culture, and almost won the rock ’n’ roll wars, only to lose to the rise of Cool Britannia and TV ‘talent’ shows that turned the strange and the outsiders into fodder for laughter.

Freaks Out! tells the story of pivotal freaks such as Johnnie Ray, Gene Vincent, Hank Marvin, Syd Barrett, the Incredible String Band and Big Youth through the prism of rock ’n’ roll, as well as through wider culture – the Cathars, the Ranters, the Hells Angels and the Yippies. Haines’ writing is the perfect mix of in-depth music knowledge, personal anecdotes and fascinating memoir that makes for the ultimate celebration of freakdom.

Pete Selby, Publishing Director for Nine Eight Books who acquired the book directly from Haines said: “Whilst the reductivism of the labels might stick in his craw, Luke is one of our greatest pop culture writers, theorists and provocateurs. A defiantly solipsistic, sacred cow skewering agitator, you may not always agree with what he says, but he says it in such an eloquent and entertaining fashion it’s impossible not to grit your teeth and applaud. Freaks Out! – part memoir, part manifesto – is the most righteous alternate history of rock ’n’ roll that you will read in 2024.”

Luke Haines is a London-based writer, visual artist, singer-songwriter and founder member of the Auteurs and Black Box Recorder. In 1993, the debut Auteurs album, New Wave lost the Mercury Music Prize by one vote to Suede. A prolific artist, he has released nineteen albums in the twenty-first century, most recently his 2022 collaboration with REM’s Peter Buck – All the Kids Are Super Bummed Out.

He writes a regular monthly column for Record Collector and is the author of two critically acclaimed autobiographical books: Bad Vibes (2009) and Post Everything (2011).

Jerry Sadowitz: Comedian, Magician, Psychopath!

Jerry Sadowitz, Britain’s favourite comedian and magician, is back!

Yes – the man with no visible demographic returns to simultaneously amuse, offend, baffle and upset you while parting you of hard earned cash!

Television appearances include “Love Island”, “Michty Me!” (still in production) and “Loose Stools”. He is married to Benedict Cumberbatch.

‘Music has Death Metal, film has Wes Craven, and comedy has Jerry Sadowitz… brutal but brilliant’ ***** Scotland On Sunday

‘An absolute dumpster fire of decorum… hysterically funny’ **** The Guardian

‘Outright hilarious’ **** The Times

Strictly over 18s only – contains very strong language and themes.


There is a rare alchemy that occurs when Lemoncello sing together, cutting through a minimal yet dramatic soundscape driven by cyclical, finger-picked guitar and earthy, gritty cello playing.

Laura Quirke and Claire Kinsella – A.K.A. Lemoncello – say: “We are honoured to be releasing our first album on a roster of artists that we love, and to be part of the revival of a label that has such a strong history of great Irish music.”

Audiences are charmed into a world of intimate observations and uncomfortable questions with irresistible chemistry, charisma, and humour, while blanketed in their unique sound – embedded in Irish folk roots and off-kilter-indie pop influences.

Previously nominated for Best Folk Song and Best Emerging Folk Act at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards, the duo’s enrapturing performances have also led them to play in Dublin’s legendary Vicar Street, The Irish Arts Centre NYC, London’s Bush Hall, and to open for esteemed artists such as Lisa O’Neill, Sam Amidon, Glen Hansard and Cormac Begley.

Hero of Belfast: The Mary Ann McCracken Walking Tour

Experience Mary Ann McCracken’s Belfast, as you walk in the footsteps of this remarkable abolitionist, philanthropist and social reformer.

Mary Ann McCracken, who was born over 250 years ago, is intrinsically linked to the city of Belfast. She lived her fearless life championing causes, moving from place to place, always on a mission to make life better for those less fortunate than herself.

Hear too about her more radical nature. Her role in the work of the United Irishmen, the 1798 rebellion and beyond. How she was devoted to her older brother Henry Joy – hanged for his leading role in the rebellion.

This walking tour takes in the locations linked to her life, her endeavours and that of her family. You will be led by an experienced guide through the same streets she walked over 200 years before. This new walking tour starts at Clifton House, where Mary Ann’s thirst for philanthropic causes first began, and where her impact can still be seen today, and finishes near Belfast City Hall.

Planning your visit:

Walking tour lasts approx. 2 ½ hours

Cost: £17.50/£16.50 concession

Please arrive 10 minutes in advance of the tour start time

Includes a complimentary tea and coffee

Free parking at Clifton House

Billy Connolly : Big Banana Feet

Thought lost for years, Big Banana Feet follows Billy Connolly on his 1975 Irish tour.

The gorgeous restoration by the BFI was undertaken in collaboration with Murray Grigor, Douglas Weir, National Library of Scotland, University of California and R3Store Studios, using the only 16mm print known to exist.

The Big Yin – complete with banana boots – was hitting the big-time when this film followed him on his 1975 Irish tour, which culminated in his famous engagement at the ABC Cinema in Belfast during the Troubles.

This remarkable film can now be seen once more in its full glory. In addition to showcasing Connolly’s comic and musical talent, it also captures his natural charm off-stage.



Baxter Dury

CQAF is delighted to welcome Baxter Dury our Festival Marquee as part of his I Thought I Was Better Than You tour. I Thought I Was Better Than You is an album that makes the start of a new character for Dury that he describes as “faux-confrontational.”

The album is a recounting and reckoning of his childhood. Drury breaks down the struggle he faced being born into a fortunate life but not wanting that to be the reason for his success.

“Really it’s about being trapped in an awkward place between something you’re actually quite good at, and somebody else’s success,” Dury says, referencing his father, singer-songwriter Ian Dury.

I Thought I Was Better Than You takes influence from the likes of Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator and Vegyn.

The album’s lead single ‘Celebrate Me’ starts with Dury narrating his life and speaking directly to the audience. It also features an array of high-pitched female voices including Eska Mtungwazi, JGrrey and Madeline Hart that stand out compared to Dury’s lower pitch speech in the song.

“It may sound corny, he says, “but men can be predictable – so I tried to step away from the male artistic trope of everything revolving around you.”

The track ‘Crowded Rooms’ on the album describes how Dury feels trapped in Bohemia and its small-mindedness in the upper-middle-class. Dury sings, questioning “Why am I condemned because I’m the son of a musician?/ Because I don’t wash or you think I’m too posh?”

The album is an acknowledgement of the nepotism that he has in his life and how even is both high and low art. Dury wants people to see that he is no better than anyone else.

Kimmie Rhodes

Kimmie Rhodes from Austin, Texas returns with a rare and intimate solo performance to celebrate the release of newly-penned songs, tell stories both poignant and hilarious from her four decades of making music and sing the songs those years inspired!

She says, “I can’t wait to visit friends and fans… fun promised!”

“Kimmie Rhodes: The soul of a poet and the voice of an angel.” – Rodney Crowell

“Kimmie has the voice of a beautiful child coming from an old soul. She touches us where the better angels of our nature dwell, and I believe we need that now more than ever. If you haven’t before, do yourself a favor and bring her into your listening life.” – Emmylou Harris


Horror Garage Punk! A.N.J.A. is a German-born, Belfast based singer and songwriter who performs with her 4-piece live band. A.N.J.A is dynamic burst of raw energy, captivating audiences with powerful and sometimes unhinged live performances.

With two guitars, two vocals, bass and drums, she sees her band as the 4 apocalyptic riders as she guides the audience into an occultish imaginarium and towards the edges of the underworld. Always fearless, electrified, bold!

A.N.J.A. harks back to retro punk and garage, grunge and stoner rock and draws inspiration from ‘folklore, horror cinema and themes of self-transformation and empowerment while facing the real-life horrors of our messed up world.’

Her sound is inspired by artists such as Queens of the Stone Age, Hole, Misfits, The Velvet Underground, L7, Jack White, Iggy and the Stooges, PJ Harvey, and The Cramps.

DJ Format

Support by Pete Brady and Chris Caul

DJ Format will blend his favourite funk, soul, and even elements of hip hop for an unforgettable experience that will keep you dancing.

The title of his 2003 debut album says it all:Music For The Mature B-Boy. That’s DJ Format for you, boiled down to the essence. He’s the grown up producer/beatmaker who, admittedly, spends far too long digging for bafflingly scarce records to sample and play in clubs.

His six artist albums, featuring rap heavyweights likeJurassic 5EdanMr LifPhill Most Chill and of course long-time collaborator, Abdominal, have been called some of the highpoints in UK hip hop. His skill in compiling albums and crafting mixtapes have seen him enlisted by the good people at Fabric LiveFaniaBBE and Mr Bongo for his unique selections of funk, Latin soul, heavy psych, and Brazilian Tropicalia respectively.

More recently a string of cut ‘n’ paste 45s have kept his name in DJs’ boxes. These tributes to the likes of James Brown, Kool & The Gang, and The Meters, are as funky as they were labour-intensive to put together.

His latest artist album was something of a departure from his previous releases. An instrumental album swirling with psychedelic samples, “Devil’s Workshop” proved to be an instant hit with fans and critics alike.

Format’s DJ sets are like long form versions of these productions – meticulous on the execution and built on the deep crates he’s spent years building.

Catch him behind the decks at a spot near you. His high-octane sets of soul, funk, Latin, and feel-good hip hop, have rocked spots the world over. And he’s never happier than when he gets the chance to share his music with people just like you.

Sara Pascoe – Weirdo

The debut novel from the bestselling and award-winning comedian, in conversation with Kathy Clugston.

We are delighted to be welcoming Sara Pascoe to CQAF. Best known as a comedian, Sara has also written for television and is the host of The Great British Sewing Bee. Sara has already written two books – both non-fiction,  her first novel is Weirdo. 

It follows Sophie, who is feverishly anxious and working hard to be happy in her own skin – if only life wouldn’t make that so hard. Deep in Essex and her own thoughts, Sophie had a feeling something was going to happen, and then it did! Sara will be talking about her book and her writing and the interview will be followed by a Q and A.

The event will be followed by a book signing.

‘Funny, sad, engaging, Pascoe nails everything that confronts women today.’ Stylist

The Bonnevilles

The Bonnevilles don’t so much play punk blues as use it as a spring board to create a completely new genre. The Lurgan duo take Mississippi Hill Blues and Punk Rock and mix into their own unique dark Irish Punk Blues stew.

The Bonnevilles are a no-frills guitar-and-drums two-piece from Ireland who play hard-hitting roots music they call “garage punk blues.”

Formed in Lurgan and Banbridge in 2009, the Bonnevilles feature guitarist and singer Andrew McGibbon, Jr. and drummer Chris McMullan. McGibbon was a blues fan whose take on the genre was turned upside down by R.L. Burnside‘s raucous collaboration with the Jon Spencer Blues ExplosionAss Pocket of Whiskey.

After checking out like-minded acts like the Immortal Lee County Killers and the Soledad Brothers, McGibbon decided to start doing some blues wailing of his own. Teaming up with McMullan, the group began playing out and in 2010 released their debut album, Good Suits and Fightin’ Boots.

As the band toured in support, both McGibbon and McMullan struggled with the death of a parent, which informed the duo’s second LP, 2012’s Folk Art and the Death of Electric Jesus.

As the Bonnevilles continued to tour the U.K. and Europe, they shared stages with the likes of Bob Log IIIthe Black Diamond HeaviesT-Model Ford, and Kid Congo Powers.

March 2016 saw the release of the Bonnevilles‘ third studio album, Arrow Pierce My Heart. The band kept up a busy touring schedule in the U.K. and Europe, and in 2017 Alive issued a collection of early recordings, Listen for Tone, as a limited vinyl-only Record Store Day release. In 2017 the band went back to the studio to cut their fourth studio effort. Dirty Photographs, which added a touch more detail to the band’s rough-hewn sound, was released in March 2018.

The band recently achieved a major milestone by landing one of their tracks in the soundtrack of the latest season of the hit Amazon Prime series, “Reacher.” This placement not only underscores their growing influence in the music industry but also serves as a testament to the universal appeal of their music.

Jake Xerxes Fussell

Singer, guitarist, and folk music interpreter Jake Xerxes Fussell has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s preeminent interpreters of traditional (and not so traditional) “folk” songs, a practice which he approaches with a refreshingly unfussy lack of nostalgia.

By recontextualizing ancient vernacular songs and sources of the American South, he allows them to breathe and speak for themselves and for himself; alternately inhabiting them and allowing them to inhabit him. In all his work, Fussell humanizes his material with his own curatorial and interpretive gifts, unmooring stories and melodies from their specific eras and origins and setting them adrift in our own waterways.

Fussell’s album Good and Green Again was released to critical acclaim in January of 2022. The album was produced by James Elkington and featured an ensemble of formidable musicians, including Casey Toll on upright bass, Libby Rodenbough on strings, Joe Westerlund on drums, and Joseph Decosimo on fiddle, as well as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who contributed additional vocals.

Ibibio Sound Machine

Pull the Rope, the new record by Ibibio Sound Machine, casts the Eno Williams and Max Grunhard-led outfit in a new light.The hope, joy, and sexiness of their music remains, but, further honing the edge of their acclaimed 2022 album Electricity, the connection they aim to foster has shifted venues, from the sunny buoyancy of a sunlit festival to a sweat-soaked, all-night dance club. The atmosphere has changed, but you’re still having the time of your life.

Williams and Grunhard attribute this shift to a matter of collaborators, recording Pull the Rope with Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A.) over the course of two weeks. The way the pair wrote songs changed significantly — rather than Eno penning lyrics to music generated by Max and company’s jamming, Orton started with Eno and Max writing together before adding the band. With less time in the studio and a new way of considering how they built songs, the duo found making decisions about Pull the Rope’s sound quicker and more instinctually than before.

In melding their songwriting process, Grunhard and Williams have, impossibly, pulled the trick of making Ibibio Sound Machine a tighter band than ever before, building out from their core in a way that highlights the electrifying  group of musicians they play with. Rather than recording with the full band in the room, Pull the Rope was sculpted, elements added and shaped by Grunhard, Williams, and Orton along the way. As a result, Pull the Rope is a nimble, sleek machine that’s thrilling from the first note of the opening title track, Eno’s otherworldly voice and PK Ambrose’s throbbing bass driving through a kaleidoscopic array of house, post-punk, funk, Afrobeat and disco, bangers and ballads, making an argument for unity that begins on the dancefloor.

The sound of Pull the Rope, then, is hope in darkness, bliss in spite of bleakness. Once again, Ibibio Sound Machine are here to provide the soundtrack to the best night of your life, and the better world to come.

Katherine Priddy

Since emerging with her debut EP Wolf, UK singer-songwriter Katherine Priddy has quickly become one of the most exciting names on the British music scene.

Priddy’s haunting vocals and distinctive finger-picking guitar style have already seen her sell out a headline tour, perform at prestigious festivals around the UK and abroad, including Glastonbury where she featured on their BBC 2 coverage.

She has supported a number of world class artistsincluding Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III and Vashti Bunyan, as well as a recent show with Guy Garvey at The Roundhouse. She also recently featured on a Double LP of Nick Drake coversreleased by Chrysalis Records with other artists such as Self Esteem, Aldous Harding and John Grant.

Her debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath was released in June 2021 to great acclaim. The album singles received 200+ plays across national radio including BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 and reached No.1 in the Official UK Folk Charts. Now, early 2024 sees the release of Priddy’s eagerly-awaited second album,The Pendulum Swing,on February 16th, via Cooking Vinyl. The LP explores themes of home, family, love and memory, as Priddy seeks to move forwards whilst acknowledging and honouring all that has gone before.

Her live performances are engaging, moving and amusing by turn, delivering original songs with emotional maturity, depth and particularly noteworthy lyrics. Despite the delicate nuances of her sound, Katherine Priddy is not a fragile wallflower, but a determined young woman making her mark.

Utterly brilliantone of my favourite voices in contemporary music– Guy Garvey, BBC 6 Music

An accomplished set of original songs delivered in a breathtaking voiceThe Observer

A voice of delicacy and poignancy with its own subtle strength underpinned by a skilled observer’s eye” –Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2

Blue Whale (‘Last Immediate Images’ Album Launch)

*Original tickets still valid

Having underscored their status as one of Ireland’s most fiercely unpigeonholeable bands on their debut album Process, Belfast quartet Blue Whale make their highly-anticipated return with their forthcoming second LP, Last Immediate Images.

Recorded and produced by Gilla Band’s Dan Fox, Last Immediate Images is a masterful expansion, and deft deconstruction, of what the Quietus hailed as their “chaotic, yet controlled experimental rock.”

Comprising guitarists Michael O’Halloran and Ben Behzadafshar, drummer John Macormac and bassist Andrew Melville, Blue Whale were a supremely shapeshifting live proposition by the time the genre-mauling Process arrived in 2018.

Andy Cairns of Therapy? was reminded of free-jazz pioneer, Albert Ayler “playing with a bunch of kids that grew up on Steve Albini records,” while The Line of Best Fit said “the mathy, jazz-flecked brew hurtles through a thorny tunnel of riffs and percussive flailing–it should be utter chaos, but Blue Whale make it honeyed.”

Fast forward to 2023 and the band’s craft is as mercurial as ever, yet elevated by taking a breather. It remains thickety and combustive in all the right places but now, Blue Whale sound like a band equally potent in restraint.

“A lot of our early stuff would jump all over the place,” adds Michael O’Halloran. “Now we have the confidence to have a central theme to a song, build around that and not feel like it has to go on a big journey. I think that’s why it sounds more cohesive.”

Lauded for evoking everyone from Deerhoof and Swans, to Slint and Captain Beefheart, all the while sounding uniquely incendiary; with a particularly fierce and fun dynamism seen on the live stage. Strain your ear elsewhere through Last Immediate Images and you might hear flickers and ghosts of ex-Tom Waits’ guitarist Marc Ribot, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, a slither of A Silver Mt. Zion, and the shuffle and energy of London jazz scene acts like Sons of Kemet.

“Fierce and playful, chaotic and under control” – The Quietus

“The mathy, jazz-flecked brew hurtles through a thorny tunnel of riffs and percussive flailing – it should be utter chaos, but Blue Whale make it honeyed.” – The Line of Best Fit

Revolucion to Roxy, Phil Manzanera In Conversation

Phil Manzanera, one of the UK’s best-known musicians and record producers, having shot to prominence in the early ‘70’s as the lead guitarist with the seminal band, Roxy Music, has written his memoir, titled ‘Revólución to Roxy’.

He joins us in conversation with Joe Nawaz to discuss his new book, his family history and musical adventures.

The book, with over 100  colour and black and white photographs, does, of course, cover Manzanera’s life and times with Roxy Music, David Gilmour and many of the luminaries of popular music, but it’s his startling family history, dating back to the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492, via the 1959 revolution in Cuba and the discovery of a Neapolitan Opera musician grandfather, that grips the reader every bit as the tales of being part of one of the UK’s greatest bands.

Phil commented on the reason for writing the book:  “I’ve written this memoir for my English and Colombian family, dear friends and music fans, who have followed my musical twists and turns for over half a century.  It’s a memoir that spans my 50’s childhood in Cuba, Hawaii and Venezuela, when everything seemed in the brightest technicolor, to monochrome but very cool ‘60’s London and the start of a music career that continues to enrich my life.
Roxy Music is an important part of the story but I hope the reader will find my family history every bit as fascinating as my music adventures:  I’m proud to be related to the most famous 17th century Sephardic Jewish pirate of the Caribbean, a British spy and an Italian opera musician.”

Books will be on sale from No Alibi’s after the talk.

Janey Godley: On Screen & On-Stage

CQAF are delighted to have Janey returning to Belfast to present a new documentary on her life and featuring CQAF!  Janey will also perform a 45-minute set as part of this event.

An honest, moving and often hilarious documentary about comic Janey Godley, interweaving stories from her life with footage from her Not Dead Yet tour in the wake of her cancer diagnosis. Janey Godley will perform a 45 minute stand-up comedy set after the screening.

Janey Godley takes centre stage in this engaging and insightful documentary about the fearless and funny comic. Janey found fame for her sweary anti-Trump placards and became a social media sensation as she re-voiced First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid briefings.

‘First I was cancelled, then I got cancer,’ Janey notes as she recalls being called out for racist historic tweets, apologising and then trying to rebuild her career before receiving her diagnosis. That didn’t stop her from going on tour and director John Archer interweaves fly-on-the-wall footage with interviews from people such as Jimmy Carr, Nicola Sturgeon, and Janey’s daughter, Ashley, that reveal details of a difficult Glasgow childhood.

My Darling Clementine

A labour of love on multiple levels, My Darling Clementine – the sobriquet of spouses Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish – began as a homage to classic country duets of the 60’s and 70’s á la George & Tammy and Johnny & June.

The 2011 debut “How Do You Plead?” was produced by Neil Brockbank (Nick Lowe) and featured some of London’s finest musicians from the 70’s pub rock era. Released in 2011, it was immediately acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. Country Music People called it; The greatest British country record ever made

The follow-up, The Reconciliation, featuring guest appearances from Kinky Freidman and The Brodsky Quartet only enhanced the bands growing reputation and received a similar critical response with the New York Daily News choosing it as ‘album of the month’ while Popmatters put it in their Top 10 Country Albums of 2013.

Their next move was a slight departure as they the collaborated with best-selling crime writer, and avowed country music fan, Mark Billingham on the story and song project The Other Half.Billingham wrote a dark, nourish tale of murder, lust and revenge around eight of King & Dalgleish songs. The Other Half became an album, an audio book, and a stage show and featured contributions from actor David Morrisey and singer songwriter Graham Parker

After 18 months of touring The Other Half, including a run at The Edinburgh Festival Michael and Lou returned to the studio for album no. 4.Re-uniting with producer Neil Brockbank,Still Testifying was released in the summer 2017. Stylistically, it was a further shifting away from classic country to embrace gospel and country soul and was widely acclaimed with many writers praising the new direction.

Their latest album is called “Country Darkness” – a collaboration with keyboard genius Steve Nieve (The Attractions / The Imposters), which sees them reinterpreting the country songs of Elvis Costello. Released in November 2020 it charted in both the UK and European Americana charts receiving unanimous praise along the way

During the past 9 years they have played over 800 shows around the world, won numerous awards and have more than earned their own bona fides, with their wry yet heart-on-sleeve song-craft spotlighting the vagaries of romance and the human condition, and their match-made-in-heaven harmonies

King and Dalgleish have earned their place in the roll call of great country duettists” – UNCUT

“MDC mix country gloom with excellent musicianship and very fine songs.” The Guardian

“King and Dalgleish have re-invented the country duet” – The mingling of these two voices is just heavenly” Mojo

“One of the most exquisitely pained country albums of the year comes from England” New York Daily News

Too Much Too Young: The 2 Tone Records Story – In conversation with Daniel Rachel

Author Daniel Rachel joins us to talk about his new book 2 Tone: The Music, label and moment that shaped British Culture.


In 1979, 2 Tone exploded into the national consciousness as records by The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The Beat, and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the charts and a youth movement was born. 2 Tone was black and white: a multi-racial force of British and Caribbean island musicians singing about social issues, racism, class and gender struggles. It spoke of injustices in society and took fight against right wing extremism.

The music of 2 Tone was exuberant: white youth learning to dance to the infectious rhythm of ska and reggae; and crossed with a punk attitude to create an original hybrid.

The idea of 2 Tone was born in Coventry, masterminded by a middle-class art student raised in the church. Jerry Dammers had a vision of an English Motown. Borrowing £700, the label’s first record featured ‘Gangsters’ by The Specials’ backed by an instrumental track by the, as yet, unformed, Selecter. Within two months the single was at number six in the national charts.

Dammers signed Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers as a glut of successive hits propelled 2 Tone onto Top of the Pops and into the hearts and minds of a generation. However, soon infighting amongst the bands and the pressures of running a label caused 2 Tone to bow to an inevitable weight of expectation and recrimination.

Still under the auspices of Jerry Dammers, 2 Tone entered in a new phase. Perhaps not as commercially successful as its 1979-1981 incarnation the label nevertheless continued to thrive for a further four years releasing a string of fresh signings and a stunning end-piece finale in ‘(Free) Nelson Mandela’.

Told in three parts, Too Much Too Young is the definitive story of a label that for a brief, bright burning moment, shaped British culture.

Marian Keyes In Conversation with Tara Flynn

Marian Keyes is a phenomenon. The multimillion copy, internationally bestselling author of some of the most widely loved, genre-defying novels of the past thirty years – including Rachel’s Holiday, Anybody Out There and Grown Ups – has millions of devoted readers around the world.

My Favourite Mistake is her sixteenth novel. In addition to her fifteen previous novels, Marian has also written three collections of journalism, upon which popular BBC Radio 4 show Between Ourselves was based.

Marian co-hosts the hit podcast Now You’re Asking with actress Tara Flynn for BBC Sounds and Radio 4, now on its third series. In 2022, she was named the British Book Awards Author of the Year.  Marian lives in Dublin.

In today’s event, Marian will be interviewed on stage by her Now You’re Talking Co-host Tara Flynn.

Please note – Marian is unable to sign books at this event. 

Scott Flanagan Plays Electric

Pianist, composer and founder of Scott’s Jazz Club Scott Flanigan brings his exciting electric band to CQQF. Featuring Stephen McClenaghan on guitar, Diarmuid Lally on electric bass and Andrew McCoubrey on drums, this ensemble pays tribute to 1970s jazz funk fusion pioneers Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Weather Report.

A Belfast native, Scott Flanigan is one of the foremost keyboard players on the Irish jazz scene. He performs regularly across the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany, and has recently performed with Van Morrison, the Ulster Orchestra, Larry Coryell, Jean Toussaint, Jim Mullen and Linley Hamilton. As a leader, Scott successfully tours his own contemporary piano trio, as well as a hard-swinging organ quartet. He also runs the successful Scott’s Jazz Club in East Belfast, a weekly jazz club bringing the best in Irish and European jazz to local audiences.

Equally at home in academia as well as the bandstand, Scott received his BMus degree from Ulster University and his MMus in Jazz Performance from Dublin Institute of Technology. Scott has recently completed his Ph.D in Jazz Performance at Ulster University, exploring and assimilating contemporary trends in jazz piano into his own playing.

Scott is also in demand as a teacher of jazz harmony, improvisation and concert preparation, lecturing in jazz piano at Cork School of Music and at Queens University Belfast, alongside a busy teaching schedule both online and at home in Belfast.

Tickets £12.50
Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating 

Niall McCabe

With self-effacing humour and stories told of growing up on a remote Irish Island Niall McCabe possess an effortless charm which both captivates and liberates his audience.

Like the wild Atlantic landscape of his home McCabe’s songs feel timeless and natural yet belie the dense shaping of a dynamic creative force. Deft, intricate guitar work brings a lightness to the weight of Island isolation yet the sound, soul and stories of McCabe’s life and experiences breathe a deep cultured sense of discernment through his vocals.

His natural distinct voice is earning him a growing loyal fanbase, discovering his music as he travels extensively, with his recent album tour schedule bringing him to venture off the Island, across Ireland, UK, Europe and North America.

As well as becoming an accomplished finger-style guitar player, Niall has been lending his unique voice to Irish trad-fusion band Beoga, touring Ireland, Europe and the USA while also playing support for Ed Sheeran, Foy Vance and Johnny Swim and more recently opening for Chris Issak on his UK Tour, to two sold out audiences at Eventim Apollo London and Wolverhampton Civic Halls.

McCabe’s eagerly anticipated ‘Rituals’ album was released in February 2023 to critical acclaim and featured as RTE Album of the Week, while the song Rituals topped the RTE Radio airplay charts for five consecutive weeks.

Jane Weaver

Reclaiming her universe, Jane Weaver returns with brand new single ‘Love In Constant Spectacle’, evoking spectacular images perhaps impossible to capture with the human eye, nor aperture.

Taking measured steps that lead you to something very special, our protagonist pours all her creative resources before the needle drops. Secretly, this might be more conceptual in its execution, than initially meets the eye.

“It’s about searching for joy, wanting to love and feel loved, then uncovering it in unusual places and in the smallest, hidden things in life. Magnified under rocks and stones, it explores connecting with nature and your surroundings as opposed to other people – focusing on autonomy, new beginnings and feeling bewitched” adds Jane Weaver.

This is the poetic vision of one woman only, turning a new chapter, erecting a new scaffold, drawing empty landscapes as we slowly watch new colours, codes shapes and languages fill the frame. Produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Dry Cleaning), this is evidently a new awakening.

Accompanied by a new video animated by Kamran Kaur she describes “The woman here is always moving forward in pursuit of something but constantly finding herself succumbing to nature’s spell. Nature leads her back to herself, as that which she was searching for was there all along.”

From a long-standing pillar of the UK’s independent pop landscape, this is Jane Weaver’s first single since her unanimously lorded top 40 album ‘Flock’ and one-off single ‘Oblique Fantasy’.

“Genuinely different and exhilarating”★★★★ The Guardian

Jane Weaver continues to enrapture and expand her legacy into 2024 with a freshly announced tour… and more new music imminently.

Common Groundwork: BBeyond at CQAF

Common Groundwork: BBeyond at CQAF, Various Locations, 1-12 May (No Link, image in Dropbox, copy below)

Common Groundwork is an exchange between Guyu Action artists based in Xi’an, including some other Chinese artists and Bbeyond in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The purpose of the exchange is to highlight the Common Groundwork existing between artists from different cultures with the potential to open future dialogues and exchanges.

This common poetic and philosophic groundwork extends from ancient Taoists and Druidic philosophy, where knowledge and wisdom seem to transcend space and time, being and becoming more pertinent for today’s contemporary society.

This common thread of ancient knowledge merges; wisdom with love and respect for all things, with creativity, reflects a model for living and making art, and is even more important in today’s world, addressing the role of art and artists in society.

Performance artists cognisant of living a lived philosophy have the potential to become catalysts for change, something that begins with ourselves. A saying attributed to Gandhi; ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ is conducive for noble spirits and a good place to start.

Artists:  Chen Qiuge, Li Mengyuan, Xiang Xishi, Su Baiwei, Wang Pan, Mirror Huang, Pan Chennong, Lyu Desheng, Sandra Johnston, Sinead O’Donnell, Wioletta Ratajczak, Rebecca Strain and Rainer Pagel.


Date/Time Location
Opening Reception + Solo Performances Wed 1 May, 6-10pm 2 Royal Ave, Belfast
Solo Performance Thur, 2 May, 6-10pm Redeemer Central, 101 Donegall St Belfast
Solo Performance Sat 4 May 6-10pm Redeemer Central, 101 Donegall St Belfast
Talks/Presentations 7/8 May, times tbc, Ulster University, York St, Belfast
Group Performance, with BBDB, 10 May, 12noon to 2 pm Guildhall Square  Derry
Group Performance 11 May, 12 noon to 2pm Queens Quay, Belfast. (opposite BigFish )

See our Website for further details –

mother tongue

This group exhibition features sculpture, installation, painting, photography, audio and film and represents some of the most exciting contemporary practices in Northern Ireland today.  The diverse artworks in this exhibition are brought together under the title mother tongue, a term that evokes our relationship to language, and our (dis)connection to the land, belonging, family and place.

Curated by Ciara Hickey and Alissa Kleist, exhibiting artists include Brown&Brí, Jane Butler, Myrid Carten, Mitch Conlon, Janie Doherty, Michael Hanna, Jacqueline Holt, Susan Hughes, Dorothy Hunter, Julie Lovett, Phillip McCrilly, Jan McCullough, Emily McFarland, Tara McGinn, Helouise O’Reilly, Robin Price, Jonathan H.S.Ross, Christopher Steenson, Thomas Wells, and Yasmeen Mohsen Zaher.

The 21 exhibiting artists participated in the Freelands Artist Programme, a UK wide artist development programme that took place between 2018 and 2023 supported by the
Freelands Foundation and run by PS² in Belfast.

This exhibition has been generously funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Freelands Foundation and Esme Mitchell Trust

Image credit: Michael Hanna, 0.1km (Milan 2), 2018, archival pigment print, 30 x 45 cm

mother tongue Exhibition Tour

Saturday 4th May, 2pm – 3pm £3

As part of CQAF curators Ciara Hickey and Alissa Kleist will provide a tour of mother tongue. Please reserve your ticket at

Bua an Chultúir/Victory of Culture

Farhad O’Neill

An exhibition of sculpture based upon Irish mythology

Date: 2–31 May . Thursday,  May 2, 5 – 10pm

Exhibition Opening: 5 – 8pm. Performances: 7 – 10pm

Seán Ó Muireagáin – poet: 7pm

Torby: 8pm

The Shan Vans: 9pm

Following on from the exhibition debut at Feile 2023, Bua an Chultúir/Victory of Culture comes to 2 Royal Avenue for the month of May as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. “Bua an Chultúir is an exhibition of modern  sculpture, carved from turf,  and based upon Irish mythological stories taken from medieval texts.  Opening on Thursday May 2, the exhibition coincides with the Late Night Art Belfast events.

The artist, Farhad O’Neill,  has had a career spanning 30 years with exhibitions and commissions both locally and internationally.  He is pleased to offer this creative effort to the people of Belfast and is particularly pleased to have the company of other Gaels for the opening night.  Seán Ó Muireagáin is a well known Belfast poet who will be reciting on the night.  Torby is an exciting up coming rapper as gaeilge, and the Shan Vans are an exciting new Irish language rock band.  Their involvement will ensure a fun, exciting, and broad cultural experience for all who attend”.


Shiro Masayamas and Leopold Kessler

Smoke is an exciting exhibition and engagement project from two established international artists. Working in collaboration and with a dryly humorous approach, Masuyama and Kessler have developed twin responses to themes of domestic and urban space, guerrilla interventions and herbal substances. This is a two-site exhibition, with a video archive of the artists’ street interventions displayed in Threshold, Flax Art Studios’ window galleries on North Street.

Éabha Campbell

Over the course of the festival we will have our Graduate Awardee showing In Catalyst; Éabha Campbell. Éabha Campbell is an Irish multi-disciplinary fine artist. Specialising in traditional oil painting and the expanded practice of sound-based performance and video installation, their work explores themes of decay, abjection, and visceral experiences from a queer perspective. Campbell was awarded a First Class Honours in Fine Art BA (Hons) from Belfast School of Art.

‘Ukraine – Searching for the Normal’ Cathal McNaughton

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Cathal McNaughton makes a poignant return to Belfast Exposed this April, unveiling his latest collection of images entitled ‘Ukraine – Searching for the Normal’.

These powerful photographs offer a compelling perspective on the enduring political struggles in Ukraine. McNaughton’s lens has previously captured the world’s attention with his photographic chronicles of the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and with ‘Kashmir: Valley of Tears’, as previously showcased at Belfast Exposed. These bodies of work earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 2018.

‘Ukraine: Searching for the Normal’ exemplifies his unmatched skill and empathy as a visual storyteller, vividly narrating the tale of a nation grappling with the turmoil of war while striving to maintain an aspect of everyday life.

Belfast Exposed, 23 Donegall Street, Open Tues-Sat 11am-5pm, Free Entry

‘He’s not right in the head’

FGB is a Belfast based street artist. His work often highlights important issues shedding light on topics that are often overlooked or ignored. He has the ability to connect with an audience no matter what age, gender or cultural background.

He’s not right in the head’ is an exhibition made up of two new bodies of studio-based works. 5 larger works are about finding joy in everyday objects. Using bright vibrant colours and a playful energy these pieces create a sense of fun and excitement.

10 smaller works have a more subdued contemplative feel to them. The sense of movement in each piece invites the viewer to slow down and appreciate the simplicity of each piece.’

Socials: instagram @francoisgotbuffed website:

Susan O’Neill

Susan has spent the last few years honing her craft as a solo performer. A songwriter of hidden depths, with a timeless voice that is equal parts balm and blowtorch, she is audacity personified, a free spirit, a real performer.

Since the release of the critically acclaimed collaboration album with Mick Flannery ‘In The Game’, Susan has toured extensively across Europe and North America, performing both with Mick and solo on headline tours, festival stages, and as an invited guest to an array of artists including Phoebe Bridgers, Valerie June and The Teskey Brothers.

This will be the Belfast release show for Susan’s new album ‘Now in a Minute’. 

Ania Magliano : ‘Forgive Me, Father’

You know when you’re trying to wee on a night out, and you’re interrupted by a random girl who insists on telling you all her secrets even though you’ve never met? Imagine that, but she has a microphone.

After two critically acclaimed sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a sold-out Soho Theatre run, Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Show 2023 nominee Ania Magliano is back on tour.

‘Consistently amusing and deceptively daring’ (**** Times’ Top 4 Best Comedy Shows 2023).***** (Telegraph), **** (Guardian, Evening Standard, Time Out). Writer for Amelia Dimoldenberg. Ania’s choices on Off Menu are widely regarded as the worst of all time.

The Henry Girls

The Henry Girls are sisters Karen, Lorna and Joleen McLaughlin from the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. Their musical sound, described as “full bodied and powerfully dynamic”, is infused with the rich cultural heritage of their native county with a transatlantic flavour.

Their ability to interweave traditional elements with contemporary influences has gained them critical acclaim and their signature three part harmony sets them apart.

The Henry Girls tour regularly and have performed at some major festivals and venues such as Glastonbury; Celtic Connections and Milwaukee Irish Festival.

They remain deeply connected to their roots and continue to draw inspiration from the natural beauty of the area they grew up in.

Luisa Omielan: God Is A Woman – The Musical

Do you ever wish you were in the room when magic happens? In the room for when Beethoven wrote his symphonies. when Shakespeare wrote his classics, When Cher sings anything. Well now is your chance (kinda) I gave you Politics for Bitches and What Would Beyonce Do?!

Now brace yourself for my female Book of Mormon. I can’t sing or play music. But I did grow up on Sister Act 1 and 2. This is a rough and ready idea, a pitch for a musical, and you can help me develop it! It’s all about Mary Magdalene. An epic one-woman experiment.

She should be a household name’ **** (Evening Standard). 

‘She wrote the stand-up hit of the decade’ (Guardian). 

‘A trailblazer’ (Scotsman).

Aja – The Music of Steely Dan

Never has the phrase ‘back by popular demand been so apt...

Aja, taken from the classic and iconic Steely Dan album, is an 8-piece musical powerhouse of a band whose members have over 40 years’ experience in the business.

They replicate in incredible detail the original recordings of the legendary Steely Dan.  Aja have been performing these classic songs for 15 years and have grown accustomed to packed houses of music lovers of all ages and genres.

Original guitar, brass, keyboard solos and vocal harmonies are as true as can be to the original album recordings.  Their 2-hour set generally consists of the entire Aja album in the first half and is a sight and sound to behold.

Aja are: Gerard Farrelly – Keyboards, Alan Cunningham – Drums and Percussion, Colm Lindsey – Guitars, Mark Wilde – Saxes, Serge Stavilla – Saxes, Tommy Moore – Bass and Vocals, Sinead Stone – Vocals, John Graham – Lead Vocals.

Historic Pubs of the Cathedral Quarter

Take a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon to find out a little more about some of the historic pubs of the Cathedral Quarter area of Belfast.

Each pub, from Kelly’s Cellars to the Dirty Onion, The Duke of York to White’s Tavern, and The Morning Star to McHugh’s has fascinating tales and links to our city’s history that will be teased out. You’ll learn why several establishments claim the city’s ‘oldest pub’ title, which of them is in fact the oldest tavern, and what precisely the ‘oldest’ claims of some of the others relate to!

Exploring the oldest part of Belfast town before it became a city in 1888, you’ll hear about early merchants and importers, where secret societies met, the pick-up points for mail coaches, old jails, former whiskey warehouses, newspapers of long ago, and more.

The tour will start from outside Kelly’s Cellars at 2.00pm. The tour will end at 3.30pm outside McHugh’s, where you may choose to stay on to enjoy a drink or coffee and perhaps an afternoon traditional music session.

The tour will cover up to 1.5 miles and will take place whatever the weather, so please come prepared. No refreshments are included as part of the tour ticket.

The Sailortown Sessions feat. King Cedar, Ferna & Ciaran Lavery


Due to illness King Cedar won’t be well enough to perform on Sunday.  Wilfie will perform instead.


(MC Joe Lindsay plus spoken word)

Today’s show is the launch of The Sailortown Sessions ‘In the Round’ on the 1st Sunday of every month. 

On a mission to amplify quiet sentiments and shift focus to background characters, ferna delivers a remarkable sound that merges the organic and the electronic, filled with mixed emotions, fragile beauty and powerful hooks.

The musical alias of composer & singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimy, ferna took home the NI Music Prize for Single of the year 2022 for her first official release Wasting and has already performed alongside Saint Sister, JC Stewart and Foy Vance.

Her debut album understudy was released in May 2023 to a packed-out Belfast Empire Music Hall and has received multiple rave reviews including four stars in The Irish Times.

‘10 songs that blend indie sensibilities, confident pop music and tender folksiness.’ – THE IRISH TIMES *****

‘Understudy is nothing less than a hugely impressive debut album…as Ferna, Hannah McPhillimy is now displaying the confidence & poise of a bona fide star.’ – THE IRISH NEWS

Ciaran Lavery 
Ciaran Lavery is an Irish award winning & multi-nominated singer-songwriter and musician that has released four albums with over 150 million streams to date.  He is currently signed to Nettwerk Music Group and has previously released music with All Points Records (formally Believe Records) and Kartel Music Group.

Lavery’s music has been nominated four times at the NI Music Prize, winning album of the year in 2016, as well as being nominated for the Hot Press Magazine ‘album of the year’ and ‘single of the year’.  Previously, he has been named as the Hot Press magazine ‘One to Watch’.

He has toured extensively worldwide, with performances at festivals such as Glastonbury, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Zermatt Unplugged, SXSW, M for Montreal, with a particular highlight of being handpicked to play Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion Festival in Texas.

Super talented’ – CLIVE ANDERSON

The sound of a songwriter that is very comfortable in his own skin.’ – ZANE LOWE



‘Wilfie’s song writing and sense of melody makes you stop and pay attention. Add to that a voice that sounds like he’s been walking the road for a 1,000 years, it makes for an intoxicating combination’.  Alistar McMillan – U2
Hailing from Belfast, Wilfie has been around a corner or two bringing his music to faithful fans. The last three years have seen him release two EPs and his first full album, MINERS GOLD, produced by Gareth Dunlop. Having already performed in the Legendary Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, on the Music City Roots show, and played to packed houses throughout Ireland and Europe, he continues bringing his own brand of music and his gravelly voice invariably earns him comparisons with the late Joe Cocker.

Mark Watson: Search

Mark Watson’s 12-year-old son has just got a phone. His 70-year-old dad has been through the most frightening experience of his life. Both a dad and a kid himself, around the midpoint of his life, the Taskmaster star and multiple award-winner – now also famous as one-third of YouTube cult sensation No More Jockeys – returns.

He’ll consider the search for meaning that we’re all on, with or without Google. There’ll be a lot of jokes, and a show that’s different every night.

‘A genius-level comic doing what he does best… it’s magical to watch and just so funny’  ★★★★★ Time Out Melbourne 

‘Quite unlike anything else I’ve seen in almost 20 years of covering the Fringe…witty, warm, perfectly judged’ ★★★★★ Telegraph

‘An hour or two of our limited span on Earth in his uplifting, witty company is time excellently spent’ ★★★★ ½ Chortle

‘A master at letting us in on his vulnerability’ ★★★★ The Times

‘This is a stand-up operating at the very top of his game’ ★★★★ Independent

‘Feeling Good’: Victoria Geelan Sings the Songs of Nina Simone

Victoria and her band of superlative musicians perform a carefully-selected set of songs made famous by the ‘High Priestess of Soul’, Nina Simone. An award-winning artist, Victoria is best known for her passionate and powerful vocals, evinced by her most recent album, 2020’s Sophisticated Lady.

Victoria is complimented by the supremely talented pianist and composer Dr. Neil Burns, himself a classically-trained, genre-defying musician. The band is completed by in-demand virtuoso players Rohan Armstrong (double bass) and Andrew McCoubrey (drums) who, together, capture how exceptionally affecting this music is live, moving effortlessly through Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Soul, Classical, Folk and beyond.

Interweaving Nina Simone’s life story from classical pianist to ‘Freedom Singer’, Victoria celebrates and interprets how she used music to profoundly connect with her audiences, offering community and comfort to those fighting for their basic rights. Come and enjoy a musical celebration of an extraordinary life lived in song.


Niamh O’Reilly is still a ‘fridget’ – she’s never been kissed – and at 14, she’d want to hurry up.

Tonight at the local teenage disco, her friends are on a mission to change that – whether she wants to or not. Set in Dublin in 2007, Niamh takes you on her journey through the “innocence and discovery and fun – and mortification and terror” (★★★★, Irish Times) of Irish adolescence.

Fresh off a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023 and winner of Bewley’s Little Gem Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival 2022, Frigid is a coming of age comedy about frenemies, first times and figuring it out.

Written and performed by Rosa Bowden with live DJ Ciarán Gallagher and directed by Hildegard Ryan.

Tickets: 1.00pm – £10.00 (Including Lunch), 8.00pm – £10.00

‘A funny, nostalgic ode to teenage girlhood and all its awkwardness” ★★★★★The Student

‘An amazing comedy, with heart wrenching and tender moments’ ★★★★★

‘A one woman performance of utter charm’ ★★★★The Arts Review

‘Packed with jokes, great storytelling, and a healthy dose of nostalgia’ ★★★★The Independent

‘A sharp picture of Dublin teen life’ Irish Independent

‘A blisteringly witty show’ Euronews

‘A first-class performance’ Fest Mag

Donal Ryan in Conversation

OTL is delighted to welcome Donal Ryan to the festival to talk about his work. Show includes Lunch.

Donal Ryan’s work has been published in over 20 languages to major critical acclaim.

The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards; it was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was voted ‘Irish Book of the Decade’. His fourth novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, was longl-isted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2018, and won the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature.

His novel, Strange Flowers, was voted Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and was a number one bestseller.

His seventh book, The Queen of Dirt Island, was published by Doubleday in August 2022 and was an instant number one bestseller.It is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal family love and the powerful stories that last generations.

‘A life-enhancing talent’ – Sebastian Barry

Selena Mersey: Madonna/Whore

Musical comedian and professional overthinker Selena Mersey is in a long-term relationship for the first time in her life. Unfortunately, she’s also been reading about Freud. Can Selena’s straight-passing relationship survive the weight of anxiety, progressive politics, and an incredibly impactful psychology A Level?

Presenting Madonna/Whore: a filthy, Freudian, feminist odyssey into the desire to be both and neither a mother and a slut. After a sellout run at Brighton Fringe, Mersey returns with a souped-up redux of the psychodynamic sensation, featuring songs, stand-up, burlesque, and a live birth. Let this shambolic chanteuse enchant you out of your Freudian slip and show you what relationship counselling really looks like. Sex dolls go free.

WINNER: Lamb Queer Comedy Award 2023 | WINNER: Brighton Seagull ‘Best Concept’ 2023

“Heartfelt and hilarious […] Mersey is a star of the Fringe”★★★★★ (The Reviews Hub)

“She will dazzle and charm you” ★★★★ (Broadway Baby)

“A welcome jolt” (Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke)

Musical Comedy Awards finalist 2023 | Burlesque Idol semi-finalist 2022 3 million views on TikTok

The Swingtime Starlets

The Swingtime Starlets are an all-professional close harmony trio, who perform songs from the 40’s Wartime Era, Hollywood’s Golden Age and Retro Pop!

Get your toes tapping, your sweetheart swaying, your jitterbug jiving and become entranced in the romance as this dynamic trio transport you through the eras of Swing, Jazz and Blues.

Let their renditions of the Great American Songbook and Hollywood’s Golden Era transport you through the years with their beguiling voices, close harmonies & vintage style!

Ania Magliano: I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This

Nominated: Best Show – Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2023

To the hairdresser at [redacted] Salon: You can take my money. You can take my dignity. You can take too much off the ends. But you cannot take my right to talk about it on stage. This is a show about the worst haircut of Ania Magliano’s life. Winner of Best New Show at Leicester Comedy Festival 2022, Ania sold-out both runs of her critically acclaimed shows at the 2022 and 2023 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her second show ‘I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This’ was ranked #1 in Time Out’s The 11 best comedy shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 list.

Ania has previously supported Marc Maron, Cat Cohen and Ed Gamble on tour, and writes for Amelia Dimoldenberg’s Chicken Shop Date.

‘Will have you crying with laughter’ ★★★★ Guardian

★★★★ Times

★★★★ Time Out


John Francis Flynn

John Francis Flynn will release a new album Look Over the Wall, See the Sky on Nov. 10th, following on from his critically acclaimed debut album and accompanying live performances.

Look Over the Wall, See the Sky picks up where I Would Not Live Always left off. John masterfully unpicks traditional songs and rearranges them with an emotional force. They float in a surreal space between the past and the present, the analog and the digital, between love and tragedy.

The unconventional use of instruments and jagged arrangements gives the work a magnetism by drawing you into its curious orbit of experimental folk. Look Over The Wall, See The Sky is a re-imagining of traditional Irish music: powerful, hopeful and free.

John Francis Flynn is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who creates contemporary music using traditional and folk material. His debut album I Would Not Live Always was released on Rough Trade imprint River Lea Records in 2020, earning rave reviews and winning 2 awards at the RTE Folk Awards.

‘I Would Not Live Always offers a singular and striking clarity of vision.’ **** UNCUT

‘John Francis Flynn’s ‘My Son Tim’ Is An Extraordinary Piece Of Music’ CLASH

‘like a threatening thunderhead perforated with golden shafts of sunlight: lysergic synth lines, intermittent bursts of overdriven guitar, a clarinet saturated in tape delay and a treated tin whistle disrupt the atmosphere of these old songs without ever diminishing their power.’ **** THE GUARDIAN

Mary Dillon, Dónal O’Connor & Neil Martin

“When three traditional music comets collide, sparks will surely follow”

Together, Mary Dillon, Dónal O’Connor, and Neil Martin create a spellbinding fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds. Their collaborative efforts promise to breathe new life into timeless Ulster songs and tunes, marrying Mary’s evocative vocals with the expressive interplay of fiddle, cello, harmonium & uilleann pipes.

This musical union is not only a celebration of Ireland’s rich musical heritage but also a testament to the enduring vitality of traditional music in the hands of these critically acclaimed and visionary artists.

Few singers are as cherished and revered as Mary DillonWith a voice as pure as crystal and as deep as a spring well this two-time All-Ireland singing champion hails from Dungiven in County Derry. The ‘voice of Déanta’, she has captivated audiences with her emotive vocals and passionate delivery for decades.

Born into a family with a strong musical tradition, Mary’s voice possesses a timeless quality that effortlessly weaves together the past and present. Her ability to interpret traditional songs with authenticity and sensitivity has garnered her a dedicated following, making her a highly respected figure in the Irish folk & traditional music scene.

Dónal O’Connor comes from a long and distinguished line of Irish fiddlers and singers and his collaborations have variously included membership of Ulaid and At First Light, Lá Lugh and RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s touring ensemble.

He has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading producers and musicians, having played and recorded with the likes of John McSherry, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Duke Special, Davy Spillane, Ríoghnach Connolly, Steve Cooney, Bob Brozman & Karen Matheson to name but a few! He has composed music for theatre, television and film and has presented music shows for BBC ALBA, BBC NI, TG4, BBC Radio Ulster and Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Hailing from Belfast, Neil Martin is a highly accomplished cellist and composer who has left an indelible mark on the world of classical and traditional music in Ireland. Born with a passion for both genres, Neil’s journey has been defined by his ability to seamlessly traverse the boundaries between them, creating a unique and captivating musical identity. His work has been performed across the world from Ground Zero to Mostar Bridge and the Royal Albert Hall, as well as being played on the International Space Station.

As a producer, arranger and musician, Neil has contributed to over 100 albums and has performed in international venues, such as Carnegie Hall and Palazzo Vecchio.

Audiences can expect a rich tapestry of sound that transcends genres and resonates with the soul-stirring essence of Irish folk & traditional music.

Dave Arcari

Slide guitarist and songwriter Dave Arcari’s alt.blues sound owes as much to trash country, punk and rockabilly as it does to pre-war Delta blues and has been showcased via seven internationally-acclaimed solo album releases on labels including Buzz (UK), Dixiefrog (France) and Blue North (Finland).

After a successful Kickstarter campaign his latest album Devil May Care is set for release on red vinyl in November 2023.

A top three finalist in UK Blues Federation’s UK Blues Awards 2023 Arcari’s music features in numerous BBC TV programmes as well as  popular USA series The Deadliest Catch. While continuing to build his audience in the USA with annual tours since 2013 – including official showcases at SxSW in Austin, Texas – Arcari maintains his presence on the UK and European touring and festival circuits with regular live shows throughout the year.

The ultimate validation for Arcari’s music and performance came in 2019 when National Reso-Phonic Guitars launched the ‘Dave Arcari signature model’ guitar. Arcari joins an elite and exclusive group of players who have signature models and is the first – and only – musician outside the USA to be honoured by the iconic instrument maker whose name is synonymous with the development of the blues genre.

Beyond Skin 20

‘We invite you to join us as we celebrate our 20th birthday with a kaleidoscopic casserole of music, art, dance, food, comedy and conversation reflecting over two decades of making and creating a difference in Northern Ireland and across the world with our global neighbours. Expect some surprise guests. Fabulous prizes to be won!’ – Beyond Skin

All ages welcome.


Northern Irish / Dutch duo Fräulein are one of the most exciting new live acts on the circuit. Cathartic 90’s flavoured alt-rock influenced by the likes of The Breeders, PJ Harvey and Big Thief, whilst incorporating cavernous grooves and sharply observational lyrics. 

The band’s early singles such as ‘Pretty People’, ‘Belly’ and ‘By The Water’ were championed by the likes of Spotify, CLASH, DIY Magazine, The Line Of Best Fit, KEXP, BBC Radio 1 & 6 Music.

The latest release ‘The Last Drop’ hears the fearsome pair double down on their shoegazed, grunge aesthetic which was deftly showcased earlier this year via their ‘Pedestal’ EP. Fräulein gathered top support from the likes of Clash, DIY Mag, The Line Of Best Fit, So Young, The Independent, Gigwise, Loud & Quiet, Radio 1 & 6 Music,all shining a light on the band.

Over 2023 the band toured with ARXX, Be Your Own Pet, Big Joanie and NovaTwins as well as their own debut headline tour – watch out for the debut album coming soon.

Smoove & Turrell DJ/PA Set

Superfly Funk & Soul Belfast are delighted to welcome Smoove & Turrell back to Belfast for rip-snorting DJ Set.

Smoove had met keyboardist Mike Porter through the local music scene in Newcastle and recruited him for his ‘Smoove Live’ project for the label Acid Jazz. Around Mike’s house one day they overheard a neighbour singing sublime melodies in his garage with friends which turned out to be none other than a young John Turrell practicing in a band called ‘The Stevies’. After a couple of further sessions ‘scouting’ him they finally knocked on the door and had a chat and hit it off straight away.

A man of many facets, John Turrell was a skilled carpenter, working and teaching the trade to apprentices at a local college as well as his musical endeavours. After the trio performed several gigs together with various other guest musicians it was agreed they would create some new material and so they started to write and arrange a clutch of tracks that Smoove would record and produce.

As always though with Smoove & Turrell the highs and the lows of life are represented and the hard times realism of some of the lyrics is tempered by the irrepressible dancefloor euphoria of others.

2018 saw the Georgie soul crew return with a stunning fifth album Mount Pleasant, after the success of Crown Posada, which gave the band multiple BBC Radio 2 playlists and 6 music spins.2019 then saw the band celebrating 10 years in the business with the release of “Solid Brass – 10 Years of Northern Funk” a retrospective of the biggest tracks from their blistering live shows with the added bonus of two new tracks – “I’m A Man” and “Give It Back”. A sell out Solid Brass tour saw them delivering a set of strictly the hits to rapturous reception.

The band returned in 2020 with “Stratos Bleu” their 6th studio album which went to No1 in the official U.K Dance Chart! Keyboard player Mike Porter’s collection of analogue synths came to the fore on the new album with a nod to the heady days of early 90’s clubbing which may be a surprise to some but in the context of this band as dancefloor favourites makes perfect sense.

The Magic of Terry Pratchett

Join author and comedian Marc Burrows on a journey through the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett, based on his Locus Award-winning biography and officially endorsed by the author’s estate.

Explore Pratchett’s life, influences, impact, wit and wisdom, from his days as a school librarian to his time as a trainee journalist to his untimely death from Alzheimers in 2015.

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Discworld and discover the joy, anger, and delicious cock‘n’ bull stories of one of the greatest storytellers of all time. Warning: includes bad puns and unnecessary footnotes.

“Burrows does a fantastic job of navigating both the super-fan and the novice through the story of Pratchett’s life, work and legacy. He also explores the impact of good storytelling, and how Pratchett – as a genius storyteller – used that to good effect. As does Burrows in this show.”
★★★★★ Three Weeks

“Funny, clever and profound, The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a strong and intelligent show for fans of fantasy, puns and good stories. Unmissable.”
★★★★★ Starburst Magazine

“The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a slam dunk must for any reader of Pratchett. Furthermore, you can and should bring your non-Pratchett-savvy friends. The show is surprisingly poignant, with difficult subjects tackled with sensitivity and controversial choices made for, I think, the better.”
★★★★★ (4.8) Edinburgh Reviews

Remembering Mairtin

For over 20 years until his untimely death in January 2004, Mairtin Crawford was at the centre of a Belfast literary culture that was passionate, provocative and politically engaged.

Lyrically gifted, his passing robbed us of a great talent who, as an editor and teacher, was also a great nurturer of talent in others.

Today’s event will mark Mairtin’s 20th anniversary and be an opportunity for friends to remember Mairtin in poetry and song.

Sooz Kempner: Y2K Woman

The award-winning, viral sensation returns with a brand-new hour following her sell-out 2022 run.

As the year 2000 approached, Sooz was about to turn 15 and the PlayStation 2 was about to launch… it was a new beginning for the world. But with the Millennium Bug, was the world also about to end!?

Now, almost a quarter of a century later, things feel eerily similar… New millennium, video games, Alanis Morissette… a show for anyone who remembers the year 2000 or had big dreams as a kid.

‘Kempner has funny bones’ **** (Scotsman). 

‘Brilliant’ (LA Times).

Classics for Lunch with The Ulster Orchestra

Mozart String Quartet No.23 Prussian

Elgar Sea Pictures

Danish trad. Peat Dance

Musicians from the Ulster Orchestra’s string section are joined by mezzo soprano Cicely Hé for a programme with emotional warmth and good humour – just what’s needed to transform a Tuesday lunchtime into something very special.

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 is full of wit, charm and almost operatic verve, it gives each instrument its time in the spotlight and it is famous for its strange silences and dissonance in the last movement, which invoke a premonition of an unknown future.

Elgar’s Sea Pictures tell an epic emotional story with the assurance that throughout life’s storms – and whatever lies ahead in that unknown future – love will win through. The composer specifically selected five poems written in response to the ocean, including one by his wife Alice, to inspire his ravishing and expressive writing.

The programme finishes with a Nordic ‘Peat Dance’, which is a type of Danish reel where men traditionally danced around pieces of peat. It is full of energy and originates from the Roskilde area of Denmark and nowadays, it is more common to see folks dance the ‘peat dance’ around their dance partners rather than turf… what better way to send you ‘reeling’ out into the afternoon?!

Hung Up on a Dream – The Zombies (Irish premiere)

In their first-ever feature documentary nearly sixty years after they met as teenagers before the British Invasion music scene, THE ZOMBIES tell their story of navigating the tumultuous music industry over the decades and making one of the most influential albums of all time, Odessey and Oracle. “She’s Not There” made them the first British band after The Beatles to reach #1 in the US.

After years of touring and many missteps in the 60s, sadly the band missed out on their biggest moment yet, when “Time of the Season” hit #1 and became a global success, inspiring new generations each year. The band looks back on their journey, where true friendship led them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dir. Robert Schwartzman, US, 2023, 116 mins


Bluegrass for Lunch feat. The Broken String Band

For 20 years, the Broken String Band have been our leading purveyors of great bluegrass, roots and string band music.

Local musicians Michael Ashe (banjo and vocals), Ivan Muirhead (guitar and vocals), Philip Steele (bass and vocals), John Fitzpatrick (fiddle) and Adrian Muirhead (mandolin) all play with a totally infectious  energy, enthusiasm and feeling.

The band have played at many major events and festivals, in Belfast and beyond, from private parties to ‘The One Show’. An eclectic repertoire – from Doc Watson to Aerosmith – keeps ears interested and feet tapping. An unmissable afternoon of great food and quality music.

Tenx9: In the Beginning

Tenx9 is teaming up with Out to Lunch Festival again for our first event of 2024 and our theme is In the Beginning.

Get in touch with your true stories at and join us in the Black Box on January 17 2024.

Tenx9 is a storytelling evening where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their own life. It was created in 2011 by Pádraig Ó Tuama & Paul Doran in the Black Box in Belfast. It aims to strip away the barriers that prevent people from sharing their experiences. It is always free of charge.

First come, first served!

Classic Country for Lunch featuring The Boondocks

Featuring Anthony Toner, Mark Crockard and Marcus McAuley.

Hank Williams, Glen Campbell, Don Gibson, Kris Kristofferson, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson…

I’m so Lonesome I could Cry, Galveston, Sea of Heartbreak, Love Hurts, Always on my Mind, ….

Just some of the names and songs that have built the foundations of country music and the craft of great songwriting. Lyrics and music that have survived and will continue to survive because they speak to the heart.

Beautiful melodies, touching words, soaring harmonies and intricate solos are the core of great country music. Anthony Toner, Mark Crockard and Marcus McAuley have come together as ‘The Boondocks’ to play the old school country songs they love and hope you do too.

Why not join them as we go out to the Country for Lunch?

Louder Than You Think (N Irish Premiere)

(dir. Jed I. Rosenberg 2023)

Out to Lunch is thrilled to present the Irish premiere of Louder Than You Think (2023 SXSW Audience Award winner) about original Pavement drummer Gary Young.

When teenage guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg approached the older Gary Young to record an album in his DIY recording studio (from which the film takes its name), Young helped them out and played drums for the recording.

Little did any of them know that the noise they made would end up defining the low-fi indie music scene for a generation. Louder Than You Think tells not only the story of Gary Young (who sadly died in August) but is a celebration of the band itself as well as a gripping rumination human frailty, creativity, and the sh*t life throws at us.

Mixing never before seen archival footage and audio with interviews and even stop-motion animation – plus marionette puppet reconstructions! – he recounts Young’s story from before, during and after Pavement. Prepare to be slanted and enchanted.

“A shattering exploration of destiny, creativity, and existence … Essential viewing.” – No Film School

Wild Child

Formed in Austin, Texas by main songwriters and lead vocalists Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson, Wild Child emerged with their first album, Pillow Talk, in October 2011. The band quickly earned a reputation for spirited live shows and won multiple awards at the SXSW Festival in March of 2013.

Their second LP, October 2013’s The Runaround, featured the viral hit Crazy Bird, which led to U.S. television appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and CBS This Morning.

Wild Child released their third album, Fools, in October 2015. It spent a week at number 14 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. The following June, they drew a crowd of 25,000 at a local radio station’s outdoor music series.

Another album, Expectations, appeared in February 2018 and reached as high as number six on the Heatseekers chart as well as landing in the Top 20 of the Billboard Independent and Vinyl Albums charts.

During the five years between Expectations and their next album, End of the World, Wild Child were sidelined from touring with the rest of the music industry due to the pandemic, endured the Texas ice storm of 2021 (the inspiration for the title track) and established their own label, Reba’s Ranch Records.

End of the World arrived on the label in March 2023 and has been met with widespread critical acclaim. A live act not to be missed.


Got the January Blues?

Where else to come down after the rampant joys of late-capitalist consumer Christmas with an evening of hard-sell commercials?

Infomercials is a legendary, hilarious series of specials that aired on Adult Swim. Unlike actual infomercials, all Infomercials specials are factual and actually promote real products. For the most part, there’s no continuity between these specials.

Watch… A hot young tech wizard, Alan Resnick, takes you through his 4-step program for creating your own digital avatar. He shares his personal experiences of popularity, immortality, and having it all.

Check out…Icelandic Ultra Blue – Learn about a revolutionary new drug (not to mention Nazi gold and chest rashes) in this informative infomercial.

Inventor Kent Ross introduces his newest dietary supplement that increases muscle growth, sex drive and intelligence — in dogs!

Just some of the products on offer…

With added ‘Too many Cooks’ and some ‘Unedited Footage of a Bear’.

The Scott Flanigan Trio plays The Beatles

From the mid-1960s until the present day, the Beatles have held a fascination for jazz musicians, with jazz greats such as Count Basie, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau all recording numerous songs by the Fab Four.

Belfast pianist Scott Flanigan continued this tradition in 2022 with a special one-off concert celebrating 60 years since the Beatles’ debut single, Love Me Do.

Scott is delighted to bring this concert to the Out to Lunch Festival, and has arranged an hour of great music by the Beatles for a piano trio, focusing on some of the well-known classics but the lesser-known songs as well. Scott will be joined by Andrew McCoubrey on drums and Rohan Armstrong on bass.

A Belfast native, Scott Flanigan is one of the foremost keyboard players on the Irish jazz scene. He performs regularly across the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany, and has recently performed with Van Morrison, the Ulster Orchestra, Larry Coryell, Jean Toussaint, Jim Mullen and Linley Hamilton.

As a leader, Scott successfully tours his own contemporary piano trio, as well as a hard-swinging organ quartet and runs the popular Scott’s Jazz Club, an internationally-recognised jazz club in East Belfast bringing the best in national and international jazz to local audiences.

Scott is also in demand as a teacher of jazz harmony, improvisation and concert preparation, lecturing in jazz piano at Cork School of Music, Dublin City University and at Queens University Belfast, alongside a busy teaching schedule both online and at home in Belfast.

Mud Morganfield Band

Over the last few years, Mud Morganfield, eldest son of the undisputed king of the Blues Muddy Waters, has been delivering his charismatic Chicago blues of the highest order to audiences around the world.

Stunned audiences from Russia, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina, Denmark Spain, Mexico and the UK have experienced the Mud effect. He looks and sounds strikingly like his old man, so much so the one of his dad’s former sidemen said “It’s like watching a ghost in the flesh!” Mud, however also has his own very individual mojo working and will be coming to the UK & Europe to tour with the UK’s very own top blues talent.

This son and proud heir of the King of Chicago blues is blessed with a big and powerful voice that can manage to convey deep emotional resonance on the slow numbers and good old fashioned testosterone laden strut on those classic shuffles.

He’s also blessed with a natural sense of showmanship that ensures that audiences fall right into the palm of his hand. He mixes up the sets with his dad’s classic songs and his own original material. As Mud puts it “I started to sing to show the world that dad left me here. I love and am proud to sing his songs just like I love and will always be proud of him. I’m not Muddy Waters and I’m certainly not trying to be Muddy Waters. I’m Mud Morganfield but when I’m up on stage I always feel pops is there with me and it means so much that I can get on stage and keep his music alive around the world.”

“More than a pastiche … a genuine artist who happens to sound like his daddy” – Blues and Rhythm Magazine

‘Mud Morganfield, son of the pioneering Muddy Waters, was clearly the main attraction for most London Blues Week attendees … He has a knack of communicating the most sorrowful of lyrics, while still showing his infectious excitement to be on stage. He uncannily channels his father’s prowess.’ – Editor The House that Soul Built

“All the way from Chicago, Mud Morganfield! All eyes went to the stairs from the balcony, as Mud made his triumphal entrance, got up on stage and began to sing. Instantly, you were transported back to the Electric Blues of Chicago, maybe 40 years ago and the sound, reminiscent of all the classic Electric Blues greats.” – Paul Stewart, Daily Express

Dreamgun Film Reads present: Titanic

The Titanic was the ship of dreams but it was also a nightmare ship where everyone died. Dreaming presents their parody Film Read of James Cameron’s Titanic the film based on Titanic the boat. With Gavin Drea, Stephen Colfer, Hannah Mamalis, Ronan Carey and guests!

Rewritten by Dreamgun and performed by actors and comedians who haven’t rehearsed but have seen the movie at least once. “Hilarious live read-throughs of brilliantly rewritten film classics, a joy” – Dara Ó Briain

★★★★★- “Merciless, hilarious. Consistently sharp, rapid-fire funny writing and crackling performances” – The Irish Times

★★★★★- “Kept us in stitches and potentially destroyed a host of childhood memories.” – Broadway Baby

★★★★★ – The Wee Review

★★★★★ – Rule of Three

★★★★★ -FreshAir

Tom Holland In Conversation

Tom Holland joins us to talk about his latest book ‘PAX: War and Peace in Rome’s Golden Age’. From the award-winning, bestselling historian, and co-presenter of the podcast The Rest is History.

‘Pax’ is the definitive history of Rome’s golden age, antiquity’s ultimate superpower at the pinnacle of its greatness, and the third in the epic trilogy narrating the history of the Roman Empire that began with Rubicon, continued with Dynasty, and now arrives at the period which marks the apogée of the pax Romana.

At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to Arabia, and contained perhaps a quarter of humanity. It was the wealthiest and most formidable state the world had yet seen.

Beginning in 69AD, a year that saw four Caesars in succession rule the empire, and ending some seven decades later with the death of Hadrian, Pax presents a dazzling history of Rome at the height of its power, covering events such as the destruction of Jerusalem and Pompeii, the building of the Colosseum and Hadrian’s Wall, and the conquests of Trajan. Vividly sketching the lives of Romans both ordinary and spectacular, from slaves to emperors, Holland demonstrates how Roman peace was the fruit of unprecedented military violence.

Tom Holland is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. His bestselling books include Rubicon which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History; Persian Fire, which won the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award; Millennium; In the Shadow of the Sword; Dynasty and Dominion. Holland co-hosts the hugely popular podcast, The Rest is History. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to ‘the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome’.

He has written and presented a number of TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, on subjects ranging from religion to dinosaurs. He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors; as Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee and was on the committee of the Classical Association.

In The Bad Books. Vol 2

In the Bad Books – S.E.X. edition

Welcome to another edition of In The Bad Books – the evening that celebrates the worst of the printed word from the best among us – celebrities.
For this one, we’re bringing Sexy (paper)back – as we lustily grapple with some of the bluest purple prose ever committed to the page.
Exhibit A: Shire Hell by Rachel Johnson
“As he nibbles and pulls with his mouth, his hands find my bush, and with light fingers he flutters about there, as if he is a moth caught inside a lampshade. Almost screaming after five agonizingly pleasurable minutes, I make a grab, to put him, now angrily slapping against both our bellies, inside, but he holds both my arms down, and puts his tongue to my core, like a cat lapping up a dish of cream so as not to miss a single drop.”
The prosecution rests, m’lud…

This Flight Tonight: The Songs of Joni Mitchell by Zervas and Pepper

An intimate acoustic Tribute to the music of JONI MITCHELL. Featuring songs ‘California’, ‘Blue’, ‘Woodstock’ ‘Both Sides Now’, ‘Coyote’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘A Case Of You’.

UK singer/songwriters Zervas & Pepper present what they consider to be the nucleus of Mitchell’s work, that pivotal break-out period 1968-1976 with the voice, guitar and piano front and centre.

An intimate acoustic evening that should feel like the audience is having a private listening session at Joni’s house in Laurel Canyon during the summer of love.

Zervas & Pepper are Welsh Singer/Songwriters Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper that have been creating and performing original music for over a decade professionally.

The duo and their recording/touring band enjoy cult success on the UK and European Folk/Americana scene and have released five critically-acclaimed studio albums and undertaken countless live headline and support tours, receiving strong national and international network radio support throughout their career and their original music garnering praise and accolades from the likes of CSN&Y legend David Crosby, BBC DJ’s Mark Radcliffe, Bob Harris, Lauren Laverne and Don Letts.

‘This Flight Tonight’ is a celebration of Joni Mitchell’s music that the duo have had in the making for many years, and now 2023 will see them finally take this show on the road for the first time. The carefully-crafted set list will feature songs from Joni’s million-selling albums such as Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, For The Roses, Court and Spark, featuring many cuts from her 1972 landmark release ‘Blue’.

Band Line up – Kathryn Pepper – Lead Vocals/ Dulcimer/ Percussion, Paul Zervas – Acoustic Guitar, Andrew Brown – Bass Guitar, Laurie Rich/Charlie Herbert– Piano, Sam Andrews – Electric guitar/ Congas, Percussion.



We want to do Nothing

Nothing as pause and possibility.

And Possibly Protest.

We want to create a space where Nothing happens.

Curate a conversation about Nothing.

We will advertise and invite

See if anyone shows up

And then see what happens…

We are serious and playful about doing Nothing.

Nothing really matters.

Nothing will happen at the Black Box

you’d be very welcome

unless you have nothing better to do

A Daisy Chain Inc production

Opera For Lunch – Cabaret de la Boîte Noire

Northern Ireland Opera presents ‘ Cabaret de la Boîte Noire’.   After a sold-out presentation last year we return to the Black Box for another fabulous hour of glamour and sparkle, taking you into the worlds of Bernstein, Sondheim, Weill and Kander and Ebb.

Join us as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival’s ‘Out To Lunch’ programme, with captivating performances featuring cabaret classics staged by Northern Ireland’s award-winning national opera company. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

Art is Long…Life is Short: An Evening of the Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto by Ruth McGinley

“As a music maker and curious explorer of the inner human experience, Sakamoto’s life and work offers the gift of limitless inspiration. Playing his music is like looking deeply into your own soul…a profound experience.”

Contemplating his mortality in 2017, Sakamoto said he wanted to make “music I won’t be ashamed to leave behind – meaningful work”. By any metric, he already had. His view of himself was perpetually in flux. He had become interested in human playing through this circuitous route of the sampler: “I discovered something new about the piano.”

The significance of this return to the piano became increasingly apparent as his career moved from youthful pop star to chameleonic mature artist; the piano became an instrument at the centre of personal freedom, rather than an archaic evolutionary stage leading to the synthesiser.

And now, what can we say, he showed us music is never really about certainty, only possibility, and in possibility there is a way to live, a positivity that Ryuichi Sakamoto never abandoned.

Derry-born Ruth McGinley is widely recognised as one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Her career has been wide-ranging and daring, collaborating with some of the most acclaimed musicians working today, and straying from the typical classical-pianist journey.

But it is perhaps the spaces between where Ruth’s interests really lie. A determination to walk her own path, Ruth’s love of music goes far beyond the classical world.

A highly sought-after collaborator, Ruth loves to cross musical boundaries and work with musicians from a diverse range of backgrounds including jazz, folk, electronic and film.

Becoming Marvellous by Cathy Carson

The story begins in 1970’s Belfast, where life for young Danielle is as troubled at home as it is on the streets.  Mistreated at home, expelled from school at fifteen and homeless at twenty, Danielle feels like she is drowning.

But there are lifeboats around her, people who will save her if only she can trust them enough to take their hand. Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotion, a stunningly crafted script and a powerhouse performance.

About the Author
Cathy Carson is a writer and spoken word artist who combines poetry and storytelling to explore human connection and condition.  She has performed for radio, television, festivals, podcasts and theatre.  In 2022 Cathy was shortlisted for the Saboteur award for Best Spoken Word Artist and in the same year ‘ Becoming Marvellous’ won the Saboteur award for Best Spoken Word Show.

Sam Baker

Sam Baker is a lyric writer, artist, and survivor. His songs are stories of everyday people facing everyday challenges: a young Mennonite welder who finds love, a ditch digger supporting his family, a veteran grappling with post-war life, a single mother driving around with a car full of baby junk, a widower writing ‘her’ name in the sand, and a straight-haired orphan in a house full of curls. They are survivors. Like Sam.

In 1986 Sam was on a train for Machu Picchu when a bomb exploded in the carriage he was riding in. Seven died. Through a series of miracles, and the help of everyday people doing their best–his angels–he survived.

Physical recovery was hard.  Emotional recovery harder. Melody came to him–compelled him to turn an old guitar upside down so his gnarled hands could play.

Slowly, the words came–one true line–“Sitting on the train to Machu Picchu, the passenger car explodes.”  He made a record. Then another. There were glowing reviews, more records, awards in Rolling Stone; sold-out shows in Europe, Canada, and the US and songs in TV shows; and an hour with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

Sam uses his art to tell his story–whether from a symphony in Oregon, an art gallery in Santa Fe, a large theatre in Kansas City, a small room in The Netherlands, or a song-writer retreat with soldiers. He travels the world sharing his songs, grateful for each day, helping us see the beauty in little things and hope for things to come.

Simultaneously beautiful and broken…Sam Baker is an artist worth waiting for.’ – NPR

‘The Bard of the Workaday World’ – WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘Maybe the most captivating songwriter in America.’ – LONE STAR MUSIC

Sam Baker is an island of warmth and hope in dangerous times.’ – NEON FILLER


In partnership with Out to Lunch, the 14th iteration of this popular, intimate event will be hosted by Belfast-born photographer Philip Arneill, and offers a unique opportunity to join an immersive listening experience inspired by the spirit of the incredible world of Japanese jazzkissa –coffee shops created as dedicated listening spaces for jazz records.

(Doors open at 7.00pm and close at 7.30pm so be on time please!)

Duke Special: Blood For Ghosts

Duke Special released his latest album, Blood for Ghosts, in November. This album is a unique and captivating interpretation of 10 song sheets dating back to 1850 – 1949, which were discovered in the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco.

Going beyond the traditional release, “Blood for Ghosts” is available as a book, complete with extended sleeve notes that delve into the journey of the songs, the recording process, and Duke’s perspective on translating these timeless pieces for a contemporary audience.

In a world where music is often undervalued, this innovative approach of presenting “the book is the album” is a significant response.

To celebrate this groundbreaking release, Out to Lunch audiences will be treated to live performances of selected tracks from Blood for Ghosts, accompanied by insightful discussions about the concept behind the album, the origins of the songs, and his creative process.

Join us for an extraordinary experience that combines music and literature, as Duke Special presents “Blood for Ghosts – The Book Is The Album.”

Jeremy Deller In Conversation ‘Art is Magic’

Jeremy Deller talks about his new publication ‘Art is Magic’

A holistic and revealing account of the inspirations, passions and practices of one of the country’s foremost contemporary artists.

In work that is playful, political and provocative, borrowing from many forms and produced over many mediums, Jeremy Deller enjoys critical acclaim in the UK and across the world.

Art is Magic is the first book in which the artist reflects on the entirety of his career, his life and his art. Published by Cheerio

About the author

Jeremy Deller studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute and at Sussex University. He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for his work Memory Bucket and represented Britain in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

His projects over the past two decades, such as Battle of Orgreave (2001), We’re Here Because We’re Here (2016) as well as the documentary Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (2019) have influenced the conventional map of contemporary art.


Alison Brown

One of the most multi-faceted minds in roots music, Alison Brown is a GRAMMY-winning musician, GRAMMY-nominated producer, former investment banker, and co-founder of The Compass Records Group which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023.

Although Alison began her musical career as a teenager in the Southern California bluegrass scene, she has built a reputation as one of today’s most forward thinking and innovative banjo players. She is known for taking the instrument far beyond its Appalachian roots by blending bluegrass and jazz influences into a sonic tapestry that has earned praise and recognition from a variety of national tastemakers including The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, and USA Today.

On her new release, aptly titled On Banjo, Alison continues her musical explorations on a set of original compositions that explore the range of the banjo.The album features an eclectic cast of collaborators including Steve Martin, Kronos Quartet, Sharon Isbin, Anat Cohen, Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan and members of the Alison Brown Quintet.

Alison is the recipient of the USA Artists Fellowship in Music and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. In 2019, she was inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. Alison serves on the Board of Governors of the Recording Academy and as co-chair of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize.

“Like James Taylor’s voice or B.B. King’s guitar, Alison Brown’s banjo is an instrument possessed of a unique sonic signature and an inescapable beauty….an artist who never ceases to delight.” Billboard Magazine

“Alison Brown left a career in investment banking for a life as a banjo musician. Anyone who thinks this was a foolish move hasn’t heard her play.”The New Yorker

Brigid Mae Power

Recognised as a purveyor of dreamier pop with folky leanings, Brigid Mae Power is set to release her new album this summer.

‘Dream From The Deep Well’ is a departure; a unique marriage of traditional stylings and very modern melodies; a breathtaking soundtrack which underpins her gorgeous vocal.

“The Irish singer-songwriter flits between past and present; between traditional and modern forms; between the heaven in her voice and the earthbound epiphanies of her words.”  Pitchfork

Filled with personal tales of offspring and grandparents, the lovelorn and the lost, it’s the essence of re-imagined folk music. Brigid’s evocative vocals alongside strings, steel guitar, horns and mellotron adds to the baroque loveliness whilst waving back at her rootsy past, daubing new colours on a much-loved canvas.

Brigid’s fourth album is a new visionary beginning for the gifted songwriter and her most complete album to date. After two lauded albums for Tompkins Square, Power signed to Fire Records releasing her autobiographical, highly acclaimed album ‘Head Above The Water’ in 2020. Her last record was a coming of age opus that featured a ground-breaking amalgamation of traditional folk and country.

★★★★ Pitchfork ★★★★½ Uncut ★★★★ Mojo ★★★★ The Line Of Best Fit ★★★★ The Guardian ★★★★ Irish Times

Skilfully interpretating songs from ‘Didn’t It Rain’ (Songs: Ohia), Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline on her 2021 EP ‘Burning Your Light’; Brigid brings hope and reverence to classic songs that unquestionably exhibit her love of the art of song writing which is perfectly illustrated. Politically primed and socially aware, the Irish musician has found power in her extraordinary voice and been able to embroider into a musical tapestry that’s melancholy and wonderfully consuming.

An Elvis Gospel Brunch

As our finale of our lunchtime shows, we’ve an extended 90 minute Elvis Gospel show and it’s going to be very special.

Before Elvis Presley was a rock and roller, he was a fan of gospel music, watching such groups as the Blackwood Brothers and the Stamps Quartet perform in Memphis churches.

Jim ‘The King’ Brown will pay tribute to Presley’s religious roots with a gospel brunch, accompanied by a full band, a modern incarnation of the group that inspired and sang with Elvis.


Cahiers du Cinéma called it “the worst film ever committed to celluloid”, while Movies Movies Movies described watching it as “akin to having a fever dream when consuming a full block of mature cheddar after a bad day”.It’s undeniable that 2019’s Cats (based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name), left an indelible mark on anyone who had cause to watch it the first time around.

Join us for a cinematic evening of confrontation therapy as we face this star-studded big-budget monstrosity together in the Black Box.

Roar as James Corden wobbles and chunters in a giant cat outfit, cheer as he falls into a bin, gasp as venerable puss Dame Judy Dench deftly attends to her intimate personal hygiene.

We’ll be having a drink every time Idris Elba flashes his rippling cat-abs, or Sir Ian McKellen gingerly licks his milk, and you can take part in our contented purring contest, if you’re feline groovy.

All together now: ”Memory, all alone in the moonlight…”.

“Wait..what?” Screen International

“ of those rare cinematic events that feels like a collective hallucination – improbable and entirely indescribable.”The Independent

John Craigie

Portland, OR-based singer, songwriter, and producer John Craigie adapts moments of solitude into stories perfectly suited for old Americana fiction anthologies.

Instead of leaving them on dog-eared pages, he projects them widescreen in flashes of simmering soul and folk eloquence. On his 2022 full-length album, Mermaid Salt, we witness revenge unfurled in flames, watch a landlocked mermaid’s escape, and fall asleep under a meteor shower.

After selling out shows consistently coast-to-coast and earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, Glide Magazine, No Depression, and many more, his unflinching honesty ties these ten tracks together.

The album comes from the solitude and loneliness of lockdown in the Northwest. Someone whose life was touring, traveling, and having lots of human interaction is faced with an undefinable amount of time without those things.

So, he began writing new songs and envisioning an album that was different from his past records. The sound of everyone playing live in a room together was traded for the sound of song construction with an unknown amount of instruments and musicians—a quiet symphony.

During this period, he explored the environment around him “from the Oregon coasts to the waterfalls” and read books about Levon Helm, Billie Holiday, and Ani DiFranco. “I got time to silence all the noise and chaos of touring and look inward,” he observes.

Craigie had reached a series of watershed moments in tandem with Mermaid Salt. Beyond headlining venues such as The Fillmore and gracing the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, his 2020 offering Asterisk The Universe earned unanimous tastemaker applause.

Rolling Stone noted, “tracks like ‘Don’t Deny’ and ‘Climb Up’ bridge a Sixties and Seventies songwriter vibe with the laid-back cool of Jack Johnson, an early supporter of Craigie,” while Glide Magazine hailed it as “one of his best records.”

Perhaps, No Depression put it best, “For many weary and heavy- listeners hearted, the album might be exactly what they need.” Along the way, he generated over 40 million total streams and counting, speaking to his unassuming impact. In the end, Craigie offers a sense of peace on Mermaid Salt.

Lumiere & The Wilderness Way Book Launch

The story and songs of Irish emigration & the American Civil War

Lumiere brought together two distinct voices cut from the same geographic cloth. One is Éilís Kennedy, whose sound has ready access to the soul without need for scaffolding or spotlights. The other is Pauline Scanlon, an award- winning singer from the same Kerry town of Dingle.

Since their debut launch, the duo has toured their distinctive sound from the cosy snugs of their native Dingle to international concert halls, and a worldwide audience has connected with their offering of real music, by real singers, communicating real emotions.

As a duo, Lumiere takes something that is sacred and age old and re-imagines it simply and beautifully, reclaiming beauty, truth and trust for the modern age. The big themes of love and loss, of place and people, of longing and lament, are present in both records Lumiere and My Dearest Dear.

The Duo’s immersion in the west Kerry singing tradition, and their ability to communicate it’s beauty remains a steadfast trait of their live performances. In the past decade both singers have produced a huge body of work in solo albums, but the draw to sing together has always been there. Lumiere are re-emerging in new light, with fresh stories to tell and old songs to reveal and awaken.

The Wilderness Way is a cross-Atlantic historical fiction set in Donegal and the US during the American Civil War. Inspired by true events, it tells the harrowing tale of a family evicted by Glenveagh landlord John Adair in 1861. To escape the workhouse two brothers emigrate to New York where they are drafted into the Union Army.

Set against the wild landscapes of Ireland and the battlefields of the American Civil War, this sweeping narrative takes us on an epic journey to understand the strength and endurance of the human spirit.

 Debut novelist Anne Madden, from Belfast, has teamed up with Lumiere to highlight through song the big themes of the book – eviction, emigration and the fate of so many Irish in the Civil War (1861-65).

 “I’m delighted to launch my novel with the tremendously talented Lumiere whose haunting harmonies and musical repertoire of this period will really bring the story to life. I think this will be a very special event for anyone interested in Ireland’s recent past and the eternal human struggle of emigration.”

The Wilderness Way, is published by HarperCollins, and will be available to buy along with Lumiere music at the event.


Presented by Ulster Orchestra, QFT, Oh Yeah Centre, Out To Lunch and Red Wolf Films.

We are delighted to welcome Director Maggie Contreras to Belfast to talk about her film.

Following the buzz of Tár, Maggie Contreras’ documentary Maestra follows several women from around the world as they compete in the only all-women competition for conductors. This ultra-competitive field is riddled with long-standing issues of sexism, and each participant is approaching the contest with fierce tenacity.

Through her efforts in profiling these women, Contreras reveals how childhood abuse, maternity discrimination, and gendered expectations have moulded them as individuals. These disparate experiences paradoxically unite them in a common cause while distinguishing their priorities. One woman wonders whether she should start having children, while another wants to prove herself after being fired for being pregnant.

In contrast to the wild gesticulations required of the competitors, Maestra is relatively laid back in its approach, taking time to familiarise us with each woman before the competition starts. Yet a palpable tension starts to build as the competitors are eliminated one by one, despite everyone being a champion.

While Maestra focuses on women conducting orchestras, the film speaks to a bigger issue about gender equality. – Danielle Solzman

Watching people dear to us not make it can be heartbreaking, but by the end, the movie proves a paean to the resilience and hard work of this vibrant collection of brilliant musicians. 

They all deserve a standing ovation. – Christopher Llewellyn Reed- Film Festival Today

Greensleeves Hi-Fi X Explosion Sound System

Greensleeves Records was founded in 1977 in Shepherd’s Bush, London, to release the latest dancehall and Reggae hits from Jamaica.

The label became synonymous with Caribbean-influenced black British music and defined a genre. Many artists and prominent producers released on the label, including Dr. Alimantado, Wailing Souls, and Shabba Ranks.

Greensleeves Hi-Fi has taken the music from the label directly to the people through a series of DJ sets from Geneva to London to Berlin and beyond.

Oxman is a legendary DJ who specializes in Rocksteady, Ska, and Roots. Adam Prescott has produced original songs featuring various artists and his productions are often heard on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Rinse FM and Worldwide FM.

Kaia Kater

Montreal-born Grenadian-Canadian Kaia Kater’s jazz-fueled voice and deft songcraft have garnered acclaim from NPR’s Tiny DeskThe GuardianRolling Stone and No Depression.

Through her artful banjo playing and lush songwriting, Kaia draws on influences rooted in Quebec, the Caribbean, and Appalachia, all of which reflect the diversity of her background; her family’s deep ties to the Canadian folk music scene; her college years spent soaking up Appalachian music in West Virginia and her father’s experience growing up in Grenada, arriving in Canada in 1986, after the U.S. invasion.

Kaia released her first EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s gone on to release three more albums, Sorrow Bound (2015), Nine Pin (2016) and Grenades (2018).

For the JUNO-nominated and Polaris Music Prize long-listed Grenades, Kaia leaned into a wide array of sounds and styles in order to convey a broad range of emotions and topics, most notably her Caribbean ancestry and her father’s experience as a refugee in Canada.

In 2020, Kaia took part in the Slaight Music Residency at the Canadian Film Center, released a new single, and wrote original music for The Porter (BET+ 2022), for which she garnered a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song in a Drama Series.  Her next album, recorded in Montreal with Joe Grass as co-producer, will land in late 2023.

…plaintive, mesmerizing…writes and performs with the skill of a folk-circuit veteran…”-Rolling Stone

“You want some authenticity in your folk music or bluegrass – I give you Kaia Kater.” No Depression

A star in the making...Folk Alley

Sign Crushes Motorist

Sign Crushes Motorist is a slowcore-influenced project of artist Liam McCay, who is 18 years-old and just finished secondary school.

The music is inspired by slacker and lo-fi alt-rock music with a particular nod to Duster, the San Jose, California band who released three main albums in the slowcore genre in the 90s before taking a near 20 year hiatus that they ended in 2019 to release once more. The project name, Sign Crushes Motorist, is the title of a Duster song. McCay has also cited the late Apistat Commander as an influence.

Sign Crushes Motorist is just one of McCay’s pseudonyms which also includes Take CareBirth Day, Make His Ribs ShowMantaHoldMiserable Teens ClubRoamingDeath TrapMoon Water to name some.

Sign Crushes Motorist is the McCay’s main project and has garnered over 1.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, though his other aliases like Birth Day and Take Care are also doing good listening numbers on various platforms.

Sign Crushes Motorist has two albums to date – 2022’s I’ll Be Ok and the most recently album releases last month – Hurting.

Campbell Jensen

Ashley Campbell and Thor Jensen form a unique meeting of musical genres as the duo Campbell/Jensen. With Ashley coming from the world of country and Americana and Thor having a diverse background from rock to gypsy jazz, they create a fresh sound as a duo.

Ashley Campbell, daughter of country legend Glen Campbell, began her career playing in her father’s band on several world tours and has found success as a solo artist in the country music scene; most notably with her debut single “Remembering” which she wrote for her father.

Her original music has taken her all over the world, from China to Japan, to the mainstage at London’s O2 Arena to opening for Kris Kristofferson and the Bellamy Brothers. She has also been spotlighted for her banjo playing with Rascal Flatts in the music video for their hit single “Banjo”.

Thor Jensen, a virtuoso guitarist and songwriter from New York has travelled many different roads. From touring the world with Hazmat Modine, playing Americana with Quiet Life opening for the likes of Dr. Dog and Shovels and Rope, then onto joining the Stephane Wrembel Band, playing the music of Django Reinhardt and performing at Carnegie Hall and all over the world.

Ashley and Thor met in late 2021 and have been playing music together ever since. Both being strong instrumentalists in addition to the combination of Thor’s deep baritone and Ashley’s clear as a bell vocals, together they make a one of a kind blend. Ashley and Thor released a cover of the Tom Waits song ‘Long Way Home’ in June 2022.

In January 2023 Campbell/Jensen hired a cottage off the Northern Irish coast, Turtle Cottage. There they brought in a portable Studio and engineers and recorded the Campbell/Jensen debut album which is due to be released 2023.

Mark O Connell : A Thread of Violence

Mark O’Connell in conversation with Joe Nawaz

From the award-winning author comes the gripping tale of one of the most scandalous murderers in modern Irish history, at once a propulsive work of true crime and an act of literary subversion.

Malcolm Macarthur was a well-known Dublin socialite and heir.  Suave and urbane, he passed his days mingling with artists and aristocrats, reading philosophy, and living a life of the mind. But by 1982, his inheritance had dwindled to almost nothing, a desperate threat to his lifestyle.

Macarthur hastily conceived a plan: He would commit bank robbery, of the kind that had become frightfully common in Dublin at the time. But his plan spun swiftly out of control, and he needlessly killed two innocent people. The ensuing manhunt, arrest, and conviction amounted to one of the most infamous political scandals in modern Irish history, contributing to the eventual collapse of the government.

Mark O’Connell is a writer from Dublin. He is the author of Notes from an Apocalypse (2020) and To Be a Machine (2017), which was awarded the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, the 2019 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Guardian.

“A masterpiece”— The Observer

“Disturbing [and] compelling”— Colm Toíbín

“Superb and unforgettable”— Sally Rooney 

“A masterly work”— John Banville 

“Morally complex and mesmerizing”— Fintan O’Toole

Michael & Michelle

‘Michael and Michelle’ is actor and musician duo Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, Anatomy of a Scandal, The Gentlemen) and Michael Fox (Downton Abbey, Dunkirk.)

It took a single evening for the pair to bond over a shared passion. What started as a casual jam – in between shooting scenes and encouraged by a friend – quickly turned into something distinct. Until then, Michael and Michelle had been preoccupied by various professional distractions – most notably the hugely popular TV show Downton Abbey, which brought them together.

Both were looking for a new way of expressing themselves – and music runs in their blood. Growing up, Michael had always been in bands, cutting his teeth through a range of styles from indie to folktronica while writing his own songs.

Michelle grew up in a noisy household on a diet of Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss and Indigo Girls – she sang on various London stages including Ronnie Scott’s before acting took the front seat. After that first jam, they hustled a recording studio in Downtown LA and got to work.

Now, six years later, they are exclusively signed to Decca UMG and in May 2022 released their first EP, The Watching Silence – four self-penned songs produced by Iain Grimble (Mumford and Sons, Daughter, Catfish And The Bottlemen) recorded last year in Crouch End’s Church Studios.

The tracks were mixed by Danton Supple (Coldplay, Elbow, Morrissey) and the duo are joined across the EP by Chris Mass (Mumford and Sons) on percussion and Tommy Heap (Willy Mason) on piano and bass. Critical acclaim and media support include The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, BBC Radio 2 and BBC local playlisting.

Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd (N Irish Premiere)

We’re teaming up with our partners at The Avenue Cinema for a series of N Irish premieres at Now Press Play.  Enjoy our films in the luxurious art deco surroundings of the Avenue Cinema, with big comfy chairs and food and drink service to seat!
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Roddy Bogawa and the late, acclaimed album cover designer Storm Thorgerson (Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, and Black Sabbath), the feature-length documentary lifts the lid on the relationship between Pink Floyd and founding member Syd Barrett, who left the group before they met stardom.

It was Syd who gave Pink Floyd their moniker by combining the names of two obscure blues players – Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Intimate interviews with band members David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Roger Waters along with Pete Townsend and others, uncover Barrett’s ongoing impact on the group – markedly their sound and image – including his inspiration on worldwide hits The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, written in tribute to him. Syd’s music influenced a generation of musicians as his songs were covered by David Bowie among others.

“Syd Barrett was irresistibly charismatic, but this crazy diamond didn’t shine for long, as this comprehensive portrait shows.”— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times



This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.


ABBA in Studio 2 (1976)

The date is Saturday evening on 13 November 1976, the place is TVP Studio in Warsaw, Poland, the occasion is a television special by the greatest pop band on earth ABBA.

At the height of their powers, the fab four arrived in Warsaw to promote their new album Arrival behind the Iron Curtain on Polish television.

There’s a strange documentary about their trip, including a short in flight interview plus ABBA performing almost all new songs from the new album plus a few belters from the back catalogue.

Join us for this gloriously kitsch snapshot of a byegone era of broadcasting, peppered with rare footage and rarer outfits. Not to mention a cavalcade of the most enduring songs in the modern pop canon, or your Money, Money, Money back!

Afterwards join resident ABBAteurs – The Stalemates, for an audiovisual celebration of the music of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid.


This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.

Say Amen, Somebody (N Irish Premiere)

An instant classic on its original release over 40 years ago, this is a powerful documentary about the men and women who pioneered African-American gospel music. And where better to show this classic than in the evocative surroundings of Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church?

Widely praised upon its release in 1982; the late Roger Ebert called it “One of the most joyful movies I’ve ever seen.”

A moving mix of concert film and documentary, this singular exploration follows the rich history of gospel music in America through the testimony of two towering figures who lived it, composer Thomas A. Dorsey and singer Willie Mae Ford Smith.

Add performances by such greats as Delois Barrett Campbell and The Barrett SistersZella Jackson Price, and The O’Neal Twins, and the result is an acclaimed, joy-filled celebration.

Tickets £8.00

Doors 7.30pm, Unreserved Seating


This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.


It’s a Fine Thing to Sing (N Irish Premiere)

We’re teaming up with our partners at The Avenue Cinema for a series of N Irish premieres at Now Press Play.  Enjoy our films in the luxurious art deco surroundings of the Avenue Cinema, with big comfy chairs and food and drink service to seat!   

(dir. Bob Gallagher 2023)

When singers Ian Lynch (Lankum), Ye Vagabonds and The Henry Girls were invited to create their own interpretations of songs from the Inishowen Song Project, they ended up arranging and singing six songs from Clonmany and Buncrana singers from the famed Inishowen Peninsula.

Captured in this beautiful film by award winning filmmaker Bob Gallagher, audiences are transported to a richly evocative world of local singers and song, documented over 40 years from within the community itself. Framed within the stunning landscape of the area, these new performances, atmospheric archival recordings, and interviews with key community figures, demonstrate how songs pass from singer to singer, while also examining the question of why we sing.

This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.



Dio: Dreamers Never Die (N Irish Premiere)

We’re teaming up with our partners at The Avenue Cinema for a series of N Irish premieres at Now Press Play.  Enjoy our films in the luxurious art deco surroundings of the Avenue Cinema, with big comfy chairs and food and drink service to seat!  


It’s not every day an acclaimed documentary about a heavy metal god gets made.

This much-celebrated career-spanning film follows one of rock and metal’s greatest all-time vocalists – Ronnie James Dio’s journey from his childhood days in upstate New York, through his iconic turns in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, to his death in 2010.

At turns familiar, illuminating and even laugh-out-loud funny (such as photographer Gene Kirkland’s account of shooting the band photo for the Holy Diver album), Dreamers Never Die is a well-paced and engaging ride from start-to-finish.

Condemned by religious groups and misunderstood by conservative parents, Dio emerges as a righteous messenger inspiring an entire generation of rockers to believe in themselves and chase their dreams. Their metal dreams…

“Illuminating, funny and occasionally brutally honest, Dio: Dreamers Never Die is an insightful portrait of one of metal’s most beloved figures” Louder Sound

This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.


Human Highway

We all love Devo, sure. And we all love Neil Young, mos def. But what about Devo and Neil Young performing “Hey Hey My My” together? Throw in David Lynch luminaries Dean Stockwell & Russ Tamblyn, a bit of Dennis Hopper at his most deranged and a large helping of hyper-real visual storytelling and you’ve got yourself Human Highway.

It’s a movie one critic described as “The Wizard of Oz on acid”. Directed and produced by Young himself (under the soubriquet Bernard Shakey) Human Highway has to be seen to be believed.

It’s the place were day-glo nightmares converge with pop trash and yet somehow, it all works. Did we also mention that it’s very very funny? Panned on its initial release, but subsequently critically reassessed, Human Highway is the missing link between John Waters and Tim Burton.

Featuring Devo as “Nuclear Garbagepersons”. Need we say more?

This event is supported by Film Hub NI, awarding funds from the National Lottery through the BFI Film Audience Network.


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The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch are annual festivals of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature which take place in January and May in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival / Out To Lunch Arts Festival
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Northern Whig House
Bridge Street