Paul Brady ‘Crazy Dreams’ Book Launch

Paul Brady will be in conversation with Ralph McLean about Crazy Dreams, a compelling and highly anticipated autobiography from a musician whose remarkable career has spanned six decades and who is indisputably one of Ireland’s greatest living songwriters.

This evocative memoir chronicles Paul’s many years at the forefront of the Irish folk scene, from The Johnstons and Planxty through to his seminal work with Andy Irvine and onwards to his own vaunted solo career.

Along the way are the many encounters and collaborations with such musical luminaries as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Carole King, Tina Turner, Mark Knopfler and Bonnie Raitt to name but a glittering few.

From such celebrated tracks as The Island, Nobody Knows and The World is What You Make It to his interpretations of traditional folk songs like Arthur McBride and The Lakes of Pontchartrain, Paul has carved out his own unique place in Irish musical history.

In Crazy Dreams he tells how it was done and regales the reader with remarkable stories of life on the road and the journey from small-town Tyrone to the world stage.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Bad Bridget

Join Elaine Farrell, Leanne McCormick and guests as they discuss ‘Bad Bridgets’ and the untold stories of generations of Irish female immigrants to the USA that history chose to forget.

Elaine and Leanne, creators of the celebrated ‘Bad Bridget’ podcast, have unearthed a world in which Irishwomen actually outnumbered Irish men in prison, in which you could get locked up for ‘stubbornness’ and in which an Irish serial killer called Lizzie Halliday was described by the New York Times as ‘the worst woman on earth.

In their book, Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women  (Sandycove), they reveal the social forces that bred this mayhem and dysfunction, through stories that are brilliantly strange, sometimes funny, and often moving.

Doors 6.30pm | Unreserved seating

John Robb in Conversation – The Art of Darkness: A History of Goth

>Finally, after a decade of work, countless interviews and immersing deep into the culture, John Robb’s definitive book The History Of Goth is a journey deep into The Art Of Darkness. The first in-depth book on Goth is a deep dive into the enduring culture and the social, historical and political backdrop that created the space for the art of darkness to thrive.

JOHN ROBB is a ournalist: TV and Radio Presenter: Mentor: Musician (The Membranes), best-selling Pop Culture Author (Stone Roses, Punk Rock – An Oral History, Manchester – the North Will Rise Again): Public Speaker:  Head of Louder Than Words – the UK’s biggest music and books festival: Head of the Green Britain Academy, an about to be launched scheme for training young people in Green and Eco jobs.

Jon Snow in Conversation

We are delighted to welcome broadcasting legend Jon Snow to Belfast for this in conversation event with Kathy Clugston.

There has been huge media curiosity about Jon Snow’s politics over the years. In The State of Us, he issues a rallying cry to tackle inequality, to fight injustice, to diversify politics and the media, recover our sense of community and, above all, to empower the news media to tell the truth about the state of our world.

In The State of Us, Jon Snow traces how the life of the nation has changed across his five-decade career, from getting thrown out of university for protesting apartheid to interviewing every prime minister from Margaret Thatcher to Boris Johnson.

In doing so, he shows how the greatest problems at home and abroad so often come down to inequality and an unwillingness to confront it.

But that is not our fate. Despite the challenges, Snow has witnessed profound social progress. In this passionate rallying cry, he argues that at its best, journalism reflects not just who we are now, but who we can be. We’ve had enough of division; the future is for us.


Jon Snow was the face of Channel 4 News from 1989 to 2021. In that time, he reported from dozens of countries, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Barack Obama’s inauguration, and interviewed countless world leaders including Ronald Reagan, Idi Amin, Tony Blair, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Nelson Mandela, as well as cultural icons from Malala Yousafzai to Marcus Rashford.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved Seating

Fern Brady: Strong Female Character (Book Launch)

Fern Brady will be in conversation about her brand new memoir, Strong Female Character. Fern will be in conversation discussing the different facets of Strong Female Character including growing up as a working-class Scottish woman, her comedy career, and her autism diagnosis.

About Strong Female Character:
If you’ve ever been on a night out where you got blackout drunk and have laughed the next day as your friends tell you all the stupid stuff you said, that’s what being autistic feels like for me: one long blackout night of drinking, except there’s no socially sanctioned excuse for your gaffes and no one is laughing.

A summary of my book: 1. I’m diagnosed with autism 20 years after telling a doctor I had it. 2. My terrible Catholic childhood: I hate my parents etc. 3. My friendship with an elderly man who runs the corner shop and is definitely not trying to groom me. I get groomed. 4. Homelessness. 5. Stripping. 6. More stripping but with more nervous breakdowns. 7. I hate everyone at uni and live with a psycho etc. 8. REDACTED as too spicy. 9. After everyone tells me I don’t look autistic, I try to cure my autism and get addicted to Xanax. 10. REDACTED as too embarrassing.

Fern Brady Author
Fern Brady is a woman. She is also autistic. She was born in Scotland (no, not Glasgow). She has no presets for being a ‘good woman’ – she never hated her body or indulged in messy millennial shame. She now lives out of wedlock in London. She has zero children.

Fern’s caustic wit, exceptional writing and electric stage craft has made her one of the UK’s hottest comedy stars. As seen on Live from the BBC, Live from the Comedy Store, The Russell Howard Hour, and Live at the Apollo. She’s had viral success with her BBC Life Lessons and supported Frankie Boyle and Katherine Ryan on tour. She was recently a contestant on Taskmaster on Channel 4.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Jude Rogers: The Sound of Being Human

We are delighted to welcome writer Jude Rogers to CQAF to discuss The Sound of Being Human–a brillant memoir which explores how music influences and shapes our lives. 

Blending memoir, incisive music criticism and scientific analysis– with the help of psychologists, biologists and academics – Rogers anatomises the powerful effects of music on its listeners. There’s a magic to the way that music makes us feel, and Rogers’s fascinating research only intensifies it.

Since 2005, Jude has written for the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Times Saturday Review, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, MOJO, Q, NME, The Quietus and The Gentlewoman.

She has written many cover stories and interviews, as well as many personal, heartfelt pieces about her love of music. Jude’s favourite anecdotes include Chrissie Hynde spontaneously painting her portrait in her flat at the end of an interview; sharing a Pret fish salad in New York with Björk after been flown over to America by her; Robert Plant making her a cup of PG Tips in Nashville while singing a Welsh hymn, and Lady Gaga feeding her whisky backstage at the O2, while she danced over her lap in her pants.

 ‘Too often we treat popular music as wallpaper surrounding us as we live our lives. Jude Rogers shows the emotional and cerebral heft such music can have. It’s a personal journey which becomes universal. Fascinating.’ – Ian Rankin

‘A stunning hybrid of memoir and music, sound tracking the indelible nature of sound. Rogers’ moving, lyrical sentences sing and stop you in your tracks.’–  Sinéad Gleeson

‘Moving and absorbing, The Sound Of Being Human mixes memoir, analysis, anecdote and personal chronicle into a mosaic that evokes what music means to the individual and the human tribe. A candid, beautiful read.’ – Stuart Maconie

‘Personal but universal,The Sound Of Being Human is a moving, funny and very smart exploration of what music does to you and how it does it.’ – Alexis Petridis

‘A perfect blend of the personal and the scientific, this is a fascinating and quietly brilliant book.’ – Brett Anderson

New Statesman Books to Read in 2022
GuardianBook to Watch in 2022

Doors 2.30pm | Unreserved seating

Brian Bilston

Brian Bilston has been described as Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate; with over 200,000 followers on social media, Brian has become truly beloved by the online community.

His first collection of poetry, You Took the Last Bus Home, was published by Unbound. Diary of a Somebody (Picador) was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the McKitterick Prize. Alexa, What Is There To Know About Love?, his last collection, was described by one reviewer as ‘the funniest collection of humorous verse I have seen in a long time’. His poem ‘Refugees’ was set to music by Mark-Anthony Turnage for his 2019 song cycle of the same name, and Fifty Ways to Score a Goal, a collection of poems about football for children, was published in 2021.

Days Like These: An Alternative Guide to the Year in 366 Poems is his latest book and is out now in hardback, a brilliant collection of poems that will take the blues out of Monday, flatten the Wednesday hump and amplify that Friday feeling, from January through to December.

Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery. Very little is known about him other than the fragments of information revealed on social media: his penchant for tank tops, his enjoyment of Vimto, his dislike of Jeremy Clarkson.

Doors 1.30pm | Unreserved Seating

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