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



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+

Supported By



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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